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What Superpowers Does Your Pet Have?

Pets are awesome. And they’ve been more important than ever in recent times, when COVID-19 started to spread, and we were in lockdown. The animal shelters were emptied out. It was wonderful, that the animals were getting a second chance. It’s like we innately knew that pets have superpowers.

Some of their superpowers are:

  • Reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Boosting happiness
  • We visit the doctor less often
  • Recover more quickly from surgery or illness
  • Deal better with stress


What the Research Says

 A recent study in the United Kingdom done by the University of York and the University of LinkedIn surveyed 6000 people, and found that 90% had at least one pet. 90% of those surveyed reported that their pet helped them emotionally. 96% said that they kept active and fit because of their pet. 68% reported that they worried about their pet’s health because they couldn’t get to the vet due to lockdown


Strength of human/animal bonds

The strength of human/animal bonds was stronger among people who had lower scores of mental health problems. They found that it didn’t matter if you had a dog, cat, bird, or any other pet, the outcome was the same. It was found that owning pets can be a buffer against the psychological stress that lockdown can bring.

This being said, it doesn’t mean that you go out and buy a pet to protect yourself against stress and anxiety because it was a very small study. They also found that people who went into their gardens and watch the birds found it equally relaxing and stress relieving.

I’m sure there will be more studies done on people during lockdown. And we’ll be learning much more about our mental and emotional health.


Oh, the stories I’ve heard

While I was volunteering as a therapy dog handler in hospitals and schools, I heard some touching stories.

I remember the day I went into a ward and made instant eye contact with a woman who couldn’t speak very much English. She held her hands out for the dog to come to her and set the dog on her bed. By this time, her daughter was back and I was able to speak with her. She translated what her mum was saying, she told me that she’d just had open heart surgery, and was sad because her dog was so sick and the vet had to put it to sleep. As she patted the therapy dog, she told me stories of how her dog had kept her alive after her husband died because she didn’t know how she would survive without him.

Her daughter wanted her mum to with her, but she didn’t want to, because she would have to move too far away. She’d miss her friends and the fun they have together. She wants a dog instead.

I’m sure this woman will get her way, and live in her own home with a new dog. I’ll never forget the smile on her face, and how she talked and talked and talked. I love seeing people’s faces light up when they see my dog Kahlua, because he is Mr. Charisma.


What you can do now

Really be in the moment with your pet. Notice when you get worried or anxious, sit down with your pet, and pet it. Feel their fur. Look into their eyes really enjoy your time with them.

If you have an animal that you can’t touch, sit and watch them. Notice how they move, their colour, and what you enjoy about having them around.

Lastly, notice how you feel now. Are you more calm? Has your heart slowed? Has your breathing changed? What is it like for you and your pets to experience this together?


My thoughts

Having a pet is like having a therapist on hand, every minute of the day. Enjoy your time with them.

Pets are a special part of your family. They’re there to greet you when you get home to listen to your stories, and love you no matter what.

I’d love to know about your pet, and how they help you.

They certainly have superpowers.

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