“Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
Anatole France

I recently read an excerpt from a Steven King book. I could not find the exact quote, but I recall that it started with an intriguing sentence. A man’s life is five dogs long, the dog that teaches you, the dog you teach, the two dogs you work and the dog that outlives you. My parents are on their fifth dog and although I don’t own a dog right now, I just recently adopted a rescue cat and I know I too will get my “fifth” dog sometime in the near future.

For those of us who have been indoctrinated into the club, we know that being a pet owner is not easy. To raise a pet requires time, money and a passion for the job. Moments of frustration abound and you will lose your favorite pair of shoes to your puppy’s teeth or that lovely curtain to the claws of the exuberant kitten.

However, as any pet owner can tell you, all of that effort is worth it. Bringing a pet into your home will change your life. It has been shown that a pet’s unconditional love, unsinkable spirit, and unabashed smile improve the health and well-being of their owners.

  • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.

Pets provide companionship. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Pets can help you meet new people. Dogs can be a great social lubricant for their owners, helping you start and maintain new friendships. Pets reduce anxiety. The companionship of a dog or cat can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world. Pets add structure and routine to your day. They require regular feeding and exercise schedule and having a consistent routine keeps a pet balanced and calm—and it can work for you, too. Pets provide sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. Stroking a pet lowers blood pressure and can help you quickly feel calmer and less stress

Maybe it’s time to visit your local shelter and pick up a new pet. You may want to consider a senior pet that needs extra love. It will change your life.