Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ten Great Reasons to Have a Pet

By Julia Williams

This morning I was sitting at my desk when my dear sweet Belle came in to ask for some love. Of my three cats, she’s the one who most enjoys having hugs and kisses lavished upon her, and I was happy to comply. As I held her close, I told her that I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. It’s the truth.

There are so many great reasons to have a pet, I knew I could easily come up with ten. Naturally, this list barely scratches the surface of all the many reasons people love their pets.

1.  Pets make wonderful, loving companions for people of all ages. They don’t criticize our faults, our looks, or the things we lack. Pets are good listeners, and they’re always happy to see us and greet us when we come home. Single people with pets can live by themselves without feeling lonely or alone. Everyone benefits from the special unconditional love of a pet, but teenagers, the elderly, the anti-social, and people with disabilities are especially helped through difficult times when they have a pet by their side.

2. Pets amuse us with their silly antics. Pets are natural born comedians, and they make us laugh every day. They provide countless hours of entertainment, and alleviate boredom like no video game or TV program ever could.

3. Pets protect us and our home from intruders. Dogs are good low-tech home security systems, but cats can be too. My current felines alert me to visitors by making a mad dash into the bedroom. Many years ago, my cat Binky sat on my dresser facing the window and growled nonstop. When I looked outside, I saw the Peeping Tom who’d been annoying the neighborhood.

I feel a bit smug when I hear about people with “rodent” problems, because homes with cats don’t have them. That is, unless you have a cat like my Rocky, who once brought in a rat and turned his back, whereupon it scampered behind my stove. This did require human intervention, but still – cats are great for dispatching rodents. 

4. A pet might save your life one day. Stories abound of pets that wake their owners to alert them of a fire in the house. I’ve also read about a cat that saved its human family from carbon monoxide poisoning, and a dog who performed a canine version of the Heimlich maneuver on his choking owner. An accidental discovery of a dog that could “smell” cancer on his owners leg has led to scientists training them to detect various types of cancer cells, with remarkable accuracy. 

5. Having a pet can improve both your mental and physical health. Pets help people overcome depression, anxiety, pessimism, melancholy, mood swings, shyness, rebelliousness and loneliness. These amazing animal healers can lower our blood pressure and pulse rate, calm frazzled nerves, reduce the effects of stress on our bodies, and help us live longer, healthier lives.

6. Pets make great lap warmers and bed warmers on cold winter nights. Who needs an electric blanket when you have a furry form heating up your bed naturally?

7. Pets can help you find friends and partners. You might meet “Mr. Right” at the dog park, in the vet’s waiting room, or on your daily walk around the neighborhood. While Fido plays with his four-legged friends at the dog park, you can socialize with other owners.

8. Pets are great workout partners. Walking or running with a dog, and playing games with our pets provides the beneficial exercise we all need. With the hectic lifestyle so many of us lead, it makes sense to incorporate the family pet into our workout regime. Besides the daily walk, there are many things you can do to get fit with Fido. For starters, you can take a Doga class together, which is basically yoga for dogs and their owners, and read this article for other fun ways your pooch can help you lose your paunch.

9. Caring for pets can teach children valuable life skills like patience, consistency, goal setting, perseverance, leadership and communication. Encouraging children to take an active role in the care of their pet helps them learn about responsible pet ownership too.

10. Pets can inspire us be better human beings. Like Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt in the movie As Good as It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man,” pets can encourage important qualities such as compassion, playfulness, nurturing and kindness.

Readers, now it’s your turn – are there other special reasons why you love having a pet? Tell me why having a pet brings you great joy!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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