Black “Furday” …By Joanne Jarvis Author of Dexter’s Diary
The Therapeutic Power of a Pet
It appears to be ‘black Furday’ week, not just Black Friday again this year! Here in the UK we are a nation of animal lovers, and many studies have been conducted on how human-animal interaction influences both our physical and mental health. Our furry friends and companions can have such a positive and therapeutic impact on our lives. Just stroking a pet (no matter what the coat colour or type) prompts a release of the “feel good” hormones, Oxytocin. This is a theory that has been gaining notable scientific support for some time.
Therapy dogs and fabulous felines help to raise spirits in hospitals, nursing homes, and also schools. I’ve seen for myself the positive impact taking a dog into a nursing home can have. Faces quite literally light up, people want to interact and chat. Animals are non-judgemental and offer limitless unconditional love. I’m sure that elderly people would never have noticed me if I was visiting alone. Instead, it took me hours to get to the door! These special animal souls seemingly effortlessly, do an amazing job. They help to reduce stress levels by comforting and consoling those in need or distress. Reading dogs in schools inspires confidence which can help to improve literary skills for children with low self-esteem.
Our companion animals at home help us too. They can lift our mood, understanding when we are upset, when no-one else would pick up on how we were feeling. Being acutely attuned to us, our pets have a huge impact on our health and well being. Not just physically but emotionally too.
Whatever the weather, a dog needs to go out and have sufficient daily exercise. Dogs encourage us to keep fit and active. This, in turn, provides health benefits and prevents loneliness, isolation, and depression. Regular walking improves general health by keeping joints flexible, lowering blood pressure, and having a positive effect on heart health too. Getting outside in nature away from phones and computers is beneficial for lowering stress and relieving tension. Socialising when out on a walk is much easier with a dog (especially a well behaved and friendly one) other animal lovers naturally gravitate towards animals. Fresh air “does you good” everyone feels better for a breath of fresh air!
It is wonderful to be around and in the company of animals. There is an association between the frequency of cats purring and healing …those reverberating purrs – really is there anything more soothing?! Our pets are treasured, they love us unconditionally and wholeheartedly and what we give to them is rewarded ten-fold. Pets are the best prescription! Their therapeutic power is phenomenal!
Bringing our attention back to black “furday” I would just like to mention a special dog. Jay is a seven-year-old petite black Labrador, a beautiful ex-breeder with a super temperament; she is so attentive to my dad. I just knew that they would connect and help each other. I felt compelled to engineer their introduction almost a year ago now, and I am so glad that I did. My dad is super resilient and fiercely independent. Sadly having suffered two strokes after my mum passed away, Jay keeps him going and has a huge impact on his health and wellbeing. Jay makes home a happy and loving environment for dad. She is a wonderful addition to the family and has truly helped him more than any human possibly ever could. Dad lives for Jay and sweet, little Jay is devoted to dad. She has brought much pleasure and greatly enriched his life, as he has hers. I am absolutely certain of that.
Joanne Jarvis, Author of Dexter’s Diary
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