I’m not a huge fan of commercials, but there’s one in rotation down here in Florida that gets me every time.
A young girl… maybe 10 or 11 years old… lays in a hospital bed.
A doctor walks in and the little girl asks, “another test?”
“No,” the doctor responds. “We’re going to try something different today.”
And in runs a dog.
The girl is overcome with happiness.
And, I admit a smile falls on my face too. (Maybe a few tears in my eyes, as well.)
Because that’s how I feel every time my Ellie runs to me.
Beyond companionship, there are many great reasons for owning a pet… better health being a big one.
Owning a pet can increase your life span and decrease your risk of heart trouble.
Growing up in a house with animals can also lower a child’s likelihood of developing related pet-related allergies.
And as the commercial implies, animals can really lift your mood.
There’s just something about petting Ellie that makes me feel happy and calm.
Research has found that the simple act of petting a dog or cat can slow your heart rate and help release “feel good” hormones.
And, a new study has shown that simply petting and playing with cats and dogs for as little as 10 minutes can lower levels of the major stress hormone, cortisol.
The bond between humans and their animals is undeniable.
But I know pets might not be for everyone.
Maybe, you’re not allowed to have pets where you live.
Or, you don’t have the time or funds to care for one.
Some of you might even be afraid of some pets. (I certainly know a few people who avoid dogs when they see them.)
But the growing body of research clearly shows there’s advantages to having an animal in your life.
If you can’t keep one at home, there are many places these days to get some animal loving.
Animal cafés have popped up in many towns.
You can sip your coffee or tea while doting on the animals that have free roam of the place.
Or, try some downward dog… with a cat on your back.
Many local animal shelters have started hosting “kitten yoga” or “goat yoga” classes as a way to promote adoptions… and give people a chance to interact with animals.
I can’t imagine a more fun workout than one that involves animals.
Animals can be work, no doubt about it.
The feeding… cleaning… and constant care.
So, if you aren’t able to manage a pet at home, these cafés and classes offer a nice way to get in some animal therapy, without the commitment of ownership.
But, if you do have room in your heart… and space in your home for a furry friend… do it.
Because what you will get out of it is worth all the time and effort.
I count Ellie as one of the true blessings in my life.
Because of her, I’m happier and healthier.
And as I write this with Ellie at my feet, I know there are few places I would rather be than sitting here with my girl.
Editor, Patriot Health Alliance