- Mental Health»
The Love of a Pet
Awkward Love Between a Drunk and His Dog
People adopt pets for hundreds of reasons. Maybe it's just what they've always done or maybe they want a companion. Some people like to adopt pets from shelters because they feel like they are saving a life (and they are). Others might want something to take care of but be unable or unwilling to have children. And many people have a passion for a specific species or breed of pet.
And what do the animals give us in return for taking them in? Everything! To a pet, his owners are his entire world, his day and night, his providers, his be-all end-all.
No One Wants to Be Alone
Dating is rough, and family can be grating on nerves. Friends don't always get along, and roommates almost always encroach on your territory.
It's often said that the only family you can choose is your dog (and your spouse, though they don't tend to be as easy to get along with), and it's true! From the day you bring a new pet into your life, that pet will consider yourself its family and would probably go to the ends of the earth for you.
Who else voluntarily wakes up from a nap, drops a toy, or abandons his food to jump up and greet you happily when you get home?
Animal Assisted Therapy
Almost any well-behaved domesticated animal can become a therapy pet, and many do! These pets visit hospitals, hospices, and anywhere else that sick people seek treatment.
Dogs are the most common therapy animals because of the unconditional love that they offer to almost everyone they meet. A long-term patient with few regular visitors will have her day significantly improved when her favorite Dachshund or Great Dane comes for cuddling and kissing!
Animal assisted therapy is extremely popular in children's hospitals. The kids might be used to seeing their own pets at home and are therefore overjoyed to be visited by similar animals. I know that I, personally, would be indescribably happy to be visited by a loving companion animal were I stuck in a hospital situation.
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But pet love is not just for those of us in hospitals!
RealAge.com counts having a loved pet as making your "real age" (how young or old you are based on factors beyond just numbers) much lower and therefore helping you live longer.
Forbes.com lists "Get A Pet" as the fourth thing of Ten ways to live longer, noting that pet-owners have lower blood pressure and higher survival rates of heart attacks.
So it's no secret that having the unconditional love of a pet (and this comes with little to no effort from you) can lengthen your life tremendously... assuming you don't step off the curb in front of a bus or something.