I grew up with pets (dogs, cats and magnificent horses) my whole life, and I have always been surrounded by these wonderful, furry creatures. I lived on a farm as a child, so it was a great way for me to not only connect to nature (and you guys know how much I love nature!) but to also connect with animals. Oftentimes I would spend days in the barn, getting to know the stable of horses and to feed them their straw, but I also just loved the smell of it: so earthy, and so connected to the vibrant fields around it.
What’s so unique about animals and what makes them truly special is that every one of them has its own personality and presence, and beyond that I love how direct they can be: What you see is truly what you get. They’re totally devoted to you and offer a level of companionship that is deeply loyal and consistent. They are always excited to see you, they shower you with unconditional love and they’ve even been proven to help improve your emotional and physical state!
What’s not to love, really. No matter what kind of space you live in, you can choose a pet that fits your home and your lifestyle perfectly. I have two dogs – Lucy, my Goldy Poo and my new puppy Stella Bella, my Standard Poodle – and I know we can bring them with us to the cottage in the summers and they just running around and swimming in the lake, but if you don’t have that particular lifestyle, you can just as easily find a pet that suits a busy urban city, or a suburb.
I think for most people who haven’t had my experience with pets, having one can seem like work or a burden: You have to walk them, feed them and pick up after them (not unlike babies or children!) but my advice for new owners is to take stock of your life and lifestyle – how much time do you have, and what can your home host? Do you work long hours at the office, or do you travel a lot as well? Does your pet shed, how much will it eat and factor in the time to take them for a walk. Having a dog requires you take him or her out for daily walks, sometimes twice or three times a day, so can you fit that into your schedule? I just love walking my dogs. I get outside, I get my exercise in and it’s really fun to connect and socialize with like-minded pet owners along the way. It is a commitment, but a wonderful one at that.
Here are the biggest health benefits to owning a pet:
They can help reduce stress
If, like me, you have ever arrived home to be greeted by a loving pooch, you know pets can lower stress levels! Studies have actually shown that cuddling your pet helps reduce something called the “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin in both the human and the pet. It can give you a soothing effect that leads to the strong bond between you and your pet.
They make you feel supported
A study in Psychology Today found that pet owners feel they receive just as much support from their pets as they do from their family members. It goes back to that non-judgement zone all pets offer to their owners: They just want to be loved, and want you to feel the same!
They keep us healthy
Even if there are those days you don’t feel like it, your pet either needs a walk or is begging you for attention. Whether you’re playing with toys at home, throwing a Frisbee around or taking your dog out for a long, brisk walk, your pet encourages you to stay active. Also a bonus: spending time outdoors can raise vitamin D levels, an essential vitamin for combating depression and promoting a healthy immune system.
Keeps us present
I love this one in particular. While we humans naturally over-think and over-stress about our daily lives, what’s happened in the past or what may happen in the future, pets only know how to live in the moment and so they can only focus on the present. Next time you’re in the park, or spending a Sunday cuddling on the couch, take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty of that moment.