Man’s best friend. They’re soft and furry, sometimes love to cuddle, and usually provide entertainment. Whether you’re a cat person, a dog person, a bird person, or any other type of pet person, there’s no question that pets provide some very real therapeutic benefits.
But then there are those of us who are allergic to pets. Like me. I used to suffer from horrible cat allergies and then discovered with my family’s two new dogs that, instead of outgrowing my cat allergies, I suddenly became allergic to dogs as well! (Apparently doctors still don’t know why people develop allergies, so we have yet to figure out how to outgrow them… we just know it’s possible! There’s hope!) However, the realization that my puppies made me sneeze constantly, my eyes water, and my lungs start to wheeze made me despair just a little…
Until they bounded up to me in their cute paws-too-big-for-them way and licked my cheek. There really is nothing better than a pet’s love to make you smile and lift your spirits. They are the perfect example of unconditional love.
When you need to play, they are there ready to enterain.
When you want some exercise, they’ll willingly accompany you.
When you need to cry, they’ll crawl up on your lap and lean their head on your shoulder.
When you want to vent or need someone with whom to talk, they will listen and they will not judge.
When you want to love them, they’re ready to receive your hugs and kisses and will usually return them immediately.
I’ve found that my pets have been essential to making my life happier, especially when my mood hasn’t been the greatest. When people sense you’re in a bad mood, they tend to either 1) avert their eyes and run as far away as possible from what they perceive to be a ticking emotional time bomb, or 2) smother you with hugs and “How are you? Are you okay? What can I do?” and other such questions until all you want to do is snap at them. Pets, on the other hand, are a passive presence that will calm you, comfort you, and love you just the right amount.
This photograph is of my family’s dog, Abigail, with my youngest sister, Ashley. To me, this picture just emanates love. From Ashley’s tight hug to Abi’s head resting on her shoulder, you can see the connection that these two share, and that they are receiving much more than just comfort from one another.
Which, just as an aside, is slightly funny to me, since when our puppies were growing up, Ashley would tease them constantly! She’d take their toys and hold them above their heads, she’d wrestle with them, and basically just act like a fellow puppy. Both our dogs were shelter puppies, which gives some people a bit of concern but we wouldn’t have them any other way. They’re both kind-hearted and sweet, playful and fun. Abigail is a black lab mix, and Bella (not pictured yet) is a dalmatian.
This just goes to show that, no matter their background or how much you or your children may tease them, dogs are masters at unconditional love.
So go love your pets! If you don’t have one, you can either look to adopt from a shelter or find ways to volunteer and help out through either the Humane Society, ASPCA (we’ve all seen those heart-felt Sarah McLachlan commercials), or another local shelter. Take comfort in your pets and the fact that they will always be there for you, and let them fill your lives with joy and love.