In this blog we give you 5 ways pets change our lives for the better and the healthy well being they give us. I will also include personal stories of how people’s pets changed their owner’s lives.
1. Pets change our Lives by Keeping Us Fit:
Pets encourage physical activity, with research showing that people who walk their dogs regularly are less likely to be obese than those who do not. Pets change our lives by helping us be more active.
curtis + island
I have diabetes and always found it impossible to exercise regularly with my busy schedule. I was at a point where I just couldn’t make any progress on battling it.
When our son, Doni, moved out and took his dog Matrix with him, my wife said we needed another dog. I agreed on the condition that it was a younger dog that I could walk regularly, like a couple of times a week.
We went to visit Ruff House Rescue to see the available dogs and how the adoption process worked. We told Melissa our story, and she introduced us to several possible dogs.
We were ready to go home and give it some more thought. But there was no way that Melissa was going to let us leave Ruff House Rescue without a dog. We told her that we didn’t have a pet carrier; she lent us one. We told her that we didn’t have the adoption fee; she worked out the finances with us.
2. Pets Change Our Lives by Providing Social Support:
According to recent studies, interaction with animals helps children develop improved social skills including improved communication, decreased stress, and positive social interaction with their peers. Pets help us change our lives by social interaction with us.
lexi + charlie
There are two parts to this story.
Last April, a volunteer with Independent Animal Rescue spotted kittens climbing in and out of a dumpster. The dumpster was scheduled to be emptied the next morning. To reach the kittens, volunteers painstakingly pulled the trash from the dumpster.
“miraculously, she allowed it and began to pet him. it was clear that we would have to adopt this kitten.”
Hours later, they rescued a litter of five black kittens around three to four-weeks-old. They had runny eyes and noses, worms and fleas. They received wonderful care during the quarantine period at the shelter and then came to my home for foster care. The kittens made a seamless transition into our home.
The other half of this story involves a special little girl named Lexi.
Lexi came into our family over six years ago. Her first few years of life had been fraught with abuse and neglect. She was in the care of the Department of Social Services, but they could not find a home for her because of her special needs.
As a long-time paraprofessional in self-contained classrooms (where students receive special education services), they contacted me about fostering her. I had known her since age three and as a single parent, I admit, I was leery. Lexi has severe, nonverbal autism. She was aggressive and self-injurious. She did not want to be touched and had no self-help skills.
She came to live with us, and we fell in love with her and saw her potential. Today, Lexi is happy and a permanent member of our family, thriving in her school and community.
Lexi never demonstrated an affinity for animals. She ignored our dogs. She never harmed them; she just preferred that they not get too close to her.
When the kittens arrived, however, one kitten, Charlie, proved to be the leader of the pack. He was the first to do everything and the other kittens followed. He was also extraordinarily social and people-oriented from an early age. He seemed drawn to Lexi.
The first time we saw Charlie climb onto her lap, we collectively held our breath to see what would happen next. Miraculously, she allowed it and began to pet him. It was clear that we would have to adopt this kitten.
Over two years later, all the dumpster kittens are in great adoptive homes, and the bond between Lexi and Charlie continues to grow. He sleeps beside her at night and immediately finds her lap when she is sitting.
But more importantly, on bad days, when she is agitated, he positions himself across her body and seems to calm her. It has been an amazing thing to behold.
I can’t imagine Lexi’s life without Charlie, and I cannot thank the wonderful volunteers at Independent Animal Rescue for spending so many hours on that April morning saving Charlie and his littermates.
3. Pets Change Our Lives by Improving Mental Health:
Studies have shown that human-animal interaction helps improve psychological well being, decrease social isolation, and promote higher levels of life satisfaction. Pets change our lives by giving us that unconditional love and support we all need.
cory + bonnie
In 2012, my wife, Jessica, and I moved back to northern Michigan after spending eight years in the U.S. Army. Jessica and I were high school sweethearts and moving back home was a unanimous decision for both of us.
During my time in the military, I was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. My deployment to Iraq was especially challenging, both mentally and physically. During the 15-months, I was deployed as an Infantryman gunner, I sustained numerous injuries, including being shot and suffering a traumatic brain injury – the result of being thrown from my vehicle after it hit an IED (improvised explosive device).
“i lost quite a few friends during the war, which is something i think about every day.”
Moving back to the safe, beautiful community where I grew up was just what I needed. I was thrilled to be home. Shortly after moving back, Jessica and I started volunteering as dog walkers at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society. I enjoyed it since it got me outside and helped get my mind off things.
One afternoon, at the insistence of my wife, we stopped by the kitten room. While most of the kittens seemed aloof and indifferent, one tiny, fuzzy-haired kitten teetered up to us and promptly curled up on my lap. She purred so loudly that her whole body vibrated.
After leaving the kitten room, we waited by the door and watched another couple go in. This kitten, who had just snuggled in my lap, didn’t want anything to do with the new couple. As we headed home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. We already had two rescue dogs and a rescue cat. I figured we didn’t need another animal.
My time in the military taught me to think things through carefully and rationally. I don’t consider myself an impulsive person, but the next day, I went back to the shelter, filled out the adoption paperwork and brought her home. My wife was both surprised and thrilled when she came home from work that day.
I have not once regretted that decision. Bonnie has been an amazing addition to our home and an incredible source of peace for me personally. She loves to curl up on my lap and purr loudly, just like she did as a kitten. She frequently falls asleep on my chest at night. Her presence is calming. She helps me forget about what I endured during the war.
Even though we didn’t need another animal, I needed Bonnie. And I like to think that she needed me, too.
4. Pets Change Our Lives by Fighting Allergies:
Studies show that children exposed to pets early in life will develop stronger immune systems and be less likely to develop allergies as they grow up. Pets change our lives by strengthening our immune systems by introducing allergens in small amounts.
kellan + guinness
I adopted Guinness a year before I found out I was pregnant. Before I knew the results of the test, I felt he knew. Throughout my entire pregnancy, Guinness never left my side. He followed me everywhere and often slept with his head on my belly.
“but guinness loved my son the moment they met”
I had always known that Guinness was a special cat. He was loving and gentle and such a snuggle bunny. I never worried about how he was going to react to a new baby, but I was completely shocked at just how much he loved the baby and how well they got along.
People would tell me that cats get jealous and don’t like babies, but they’re wrong. When I brought my son home a month after he was born due to some health issues, my kitties were happy we were home. Two of my cats never thought much about the baby, unless he was crying. But Guinness loved my son the moment they met.
Guinness would gently walk around my son to find the best way to lay as close to him as possible – without actually laying on him. He cleaned the baby’s head and hands and whenever the baby cried, Guinness would come running to see what was going on with my son.
Now, a year later Guinness and Kellan are inseparable. They sleep together and share food (because the baby likes to feed the cat). When the baby is in the bath, Guinness stands next to the tub. The boys are a joy to watch. Guinness lets Kellan lay on him, pull on him and he never shows any aggressive behavior. He has never bitten or scratched, and when he has had enough, he moves just far enough away to keep watch, but out of reach.
My life was full before my son was born. Since he has arrived, I can’t tell you how much I love watching their relationship grow and flower. They truly are best friends, and I can’t imagine what my son’s life would be without Guinness. I look forward to many, many years of my boys spending time together and learning. Kellan has become very gentle and loving with the cat, and the cat shows more love than I could imagine. Shelter animals make the best and most loving family members. I am grateful that our shelter saved Guinness and that we could make him part of our lives.
5. Pets Change Our Lives by Supporting Healthier Hearts:
Research shows that people with pets are more likely to have lower blood pressure, decreased stress, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Pets change our lives when we pet them and watch their antics.
sheryl + oscar
Five years ago, I died. My heart stopped at Penn Station in New York City, and I was dead.
The New York Police Department revived me, and I ended up having triple bypass surgery. My recovery was difficult and I was out of work for months. I had no energy, was sick, scared and needed help.
“when i was literally at my lowest, oscar lifted me up.”
I hadn’t had a dog in over five years, but I remembered that my last dog gave me a sense of purpose. So, I decided to adopt again. I searched on Petfinder and connected with Fur Babies Rescue & Referral Inc. They had just rescued a pregnant dog from North Carolina and transported her to Long Island where she gave birth to eight puppies in her foster home.
I requested the largest male dog (I like big dogs and I cannot lie!) and they reserved him for me. I met him at four-weeks-old. It was love at first sight. Four weeks later, he was mine. I named him Oscar.
Soon after, Oscar and I were taking walks together and snuggling on the sofa. He gave me the exercise I needed and the will and encouragement I lacked for my recovery.
A couple of months after his adoption, I visited the cardiologist and received my first positive post-op checkup. Before that, things weren’t going very well. He asked me what I had done differently, and I told him I had adopted a puppy. He said, “Then I wish I could prescribe a puppy to all my patients!”
Oscar was helping me heal. He got me up and out doing things that improved both my mental and physical health. Oscar loved me unconditionally, even with a big, ugly 12-inch scar on my chest that made me so self-conscious. He makes me feel safe and happy. He gave me a reason to try. When I was literally at my lowest, Oscar lifted me up.
As I got better, I wanted to give something back to others. So, we trained and Oscar passed the Therapy Dog Certification test on his first try. We now volunteer at the local library for their kids “Read to Me” program. We also volunteer for Dogs on Deployment by helping find foster homes for soldiers’ pets, so they don’t have to give them up.
Oscar just turned four. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without him. I just celebrated my “Second Fifth Birthday.” I get to have two birthdays every year now; the day I was born, and the day I came back to life.
Oscar has no idea what he has done for me. He just loves me. I love him more. He saved me.
From cozier naps, to longer walks, or by fighting allergies and keeping us fit, pets change our lives everyday, so let’s save theirs!
Consider adopting a pet and see for yourself how Pets change our lives!