This is a continuation of yesterday’s excerpt from my book Surviving Cancer and Embracing Life: My Personal Journey. It is available FREE by clicking here.
In the U.S. alone, people share their lives with 70 million dogs (in 43 million households) and 74 million cats (in 36 million households) – as reported by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. We love our pets; and they love us in return.
Before getting to my personal pet story, let’s consider how vital pets are to our psychological and physical health. Over the past several years, we have witnessed the growth in companion pets. Although some individuals may stretch the rules in getting their “companion” pets onto planes and into other venues, the basic premise is sound: Pets can be soothing and calming.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:
Studies show that the bond between people and pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some health benefits of having a pet include: Decreased blood pressure. Decreased cholesterol. Decreased triglycerides. Decreased feelings of loneliness. Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities. Increased opportunities for socialization.
A great example of the value of pets involves military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after returning home. There are several non-profits that help to enrich the lives of those veterans, including Companions for Heroes, Pets for Veterans, and America’s Vets Dogs. The dogs are well-trained and help vets to reduce stress.
Linda and I are cat lovers and have shared our home with many cats over the years. Yes, cats can be affectionate and intuitive. One cat, Tucker, will sit in my lap all day in my home office and lie on me for hours when I’m on the couch in the den.
When I returned home after my surgery, our cats KNEW I was sick. They lay in bed with me 24/7 and often cuddled next to me. They constantly nuzzled my hand. Their attention required no effort on my part and was crucial early in my recovery.