Pet Therapy… What About it?

Throughout my life I have never had the joy of a pet in the house. I had always hinted at getting a dog, and even flat out asked, but there was never any support of the idea as my parents felt I would leave them taking care of it. Regardless, I think they should have looked more into the advantages that come about with the companionship of any sort of pet… even fish!

My interest in this subject sparked because I have never had a pet of my own (and will get one as soon as I have my own place), and I have had to envy every body else’s to reap the benefits of pet ownership. Throughout high school and even now I take up every  dog or cat-sitting job I can, and love it. For some reason, when I am enjoying the company of some lovable dog that wants nothing but attention, everything else seems to jump right out of my mind and I cherish the moments of relief and mindlessness. All of the stressful things going on at the time are, even though it may only be for a brief moment, forgotten, and stress is relieved. Because I have noticed this, I decided to do a bit of research on the subject of animals and stress relief to see if the soft fur of a lab or the gentle purr of a cat in one’s lap does actually have the power to relieve stress.

I heard of pet therapy, and seen programs about the use of horses to ease the effects of autism, and they seem to have excellent results. So, what I wonder is if pet ownership has similar effects. From some brief research online, and personal experience and observation, I am led to believe that it does.

According to an online source, research has been able to show that pet ownership may reduce stress-induced symptoms such as high blood pressure and muscle tension. For example, simply petting a dog or watching fish may lower blood pressure. It is also believed that bringing a pet into a nursing home will help to boost morale and enhance social interaction.

My personal experiences and observations have come from just about any interactions I have had with animals whether they be cats, dogs, bunnies, etc. I always feel a sense of relief, perhaps due to their acceptance and appreciation of my presence? Another personal testimony to the theory is observations of my uncle. He owns a company and is often stressed at the end of the day. When I was working for him I would do my best to persuade him to take the horses out, go for a walk with the dogs, or a combination of the two. It almost turned him back into a kid again when he was riding or playing with the dogs, and he always seemed to be a bit more chipper afterwards. In time, the other employees began to notice his moods the days after I had influenced his afternoon activities (which included boating, as well)… it was pretty cool to see my uncle a little less stressed due to my efforts (and of course the company of the horses and dogs).


7 Responses to “Pet Therapy… What About it?”

  1. 1 psychphil90 April 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Pets are awesome. Every time I go home I love to see my golden retriever. She comes running to me all excited and it makes me smile every time. She definitely relieves my stress. I found it extremely interesting that simply looking at a fish can be a stress reliever…who would have thought that?

  2. 2 Marianna Wills April 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Pretty much ever since I was born, I have had a dog in the house. Between having one or two dogs as I was growing up, I completely love animals. I know that after walking down our driveway after the bus dropped me off, of driving into my garage, I would always look for their face in the window next to my door becuase they could always hear me coming. No matter how unhappy I was at the end of the school day, no matter how stressed, I always walked in the door smiling becuase they were so happy to see me. Right after I got home too, I would always take them out on a walk and just play with them, sometimes staying outside for a long time just relaxing. They were my therapy from the busy school day. Now that I am off to college, I use my horse. Unfortunately, this year, both of my dogs died while I have been away. It was pretty painful since I was really close and had helped train them both since they were small clumsly puppies, but there was nothing I could do. It is going to be really quiet this summer, but at least I have my horse. But I know for certain that animals, no matter what kind, help reduce stress. They may add stress, but overall, having an animal that loves you and bounces around for joy to see you even though you have been gone for less than 30 min without them, is definately wonderful.

  3. 3 kristenlyon April 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Animals definitely put me in a better mood, if they are furry. Going home from high school and during the occasional college break, I can honestly say the first thing on my mind to do when I arrive is find my kitties. It may seem immature or stupid but there are not many things that are as awesome as a pet. Aside from how cute they are even when they’re naughty, they are great. They are almost always happy to see you and don’t judge.

  4. 4 carimalakoff April 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I think seeing an animal, especially your own helps in putting a person in a better mood and less stressed. For me, I have basically grown up with my dog, who is now 15 years old and have had her since I was 6 years old. I can honestly say that I don’t know what I’d do without her. Whenever I come home, I love that I get to see her since she has been with me since I was young. She always brings a smile to my face. Even though it might sound silly, I consider her a part of my family and seeing and being around her uplifts my mood if I am stressed.

  5. 5 katemaddox May 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I love this blog, David! We have ALWAYS had animals around the house. Both of my parents are huge animal lovers. We now have 3 dogs, a cat, and even a turtle! Growing up we also had rabbits. It was such a hands-on, wonderful experience to learn how to take care of a pet and the amount of hard work, but also love that comes out of owning a pet. I definitely want to have an animal of my own when I am older – but want to be sure that I can give it the attention that it needs and deserves. I always feel bad for the dogs that are bought by students way too early on…they’re either living alone or with other people, and are at work all day while the dog is left alone! I think it is important to realize how much care an animal needs. They too deserve attention and love…it is better to wait until you have more time to care for it! 🙂

  6. 6 rmb2 May 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    My entire life I have always had at least one animal (mostly dogs) in my house. At one point we had 5! (2 dogs, 3 turtles) Animals really do help relieve stress no matter what is happening in your life, animals can in some way, shape, or form help you recover from that stressor. I enjoy the company of both my dogs that are living in my house right now, every minute they want attention and mostly end up wrestling with each other. I enjoy just coming down stairs once i wake up and seeing their ears perk up and act like this is the first time they have seen me in about.. a year! They never stop loving, they will always show their love.

    When coming home from long drives back from school the first thing I want to see are those dogs because you will receive the best welcoming back than any one else would. They almost pee themselves they are so happy!No matter how mad I am, they always have the ability to cheer me up and feel welcomed into the house. I feel the same way as you, once I have a steady job and I am able to take care of the dog I am going to buy one also, or maybe adopt. All dogs need love, and I cannot wait to have one. They are the best animals EVER!!! (in my opinion)

  7. 7 catieeppler May 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I definitely see animals as a stress reliever. I never had a lot of pets in my home, but I did own a horse for 4 years. He was great. I swear he knew when I was having a bad day. I could sit with him in his stall for hours. If I was upset he would put his head in my lap, or he would stand there completely still while I hugged his neck.

    He would also brighten my day from the moment I stepped onto the barn’s property. If he was outside I would go to his gate and whistle. All of a sudden I would hear hoof beats and neighing. He would gallop around the corner and meet me at the gate. Also, whenever he was inside and I walked passed his stall door he would nicker. He would get louder and louder if I didn’t acknowledge him somehow.

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