We live in a stressful time. Between our jobs or, perhaps, being out of work, our families, and all the time spent on our computers and social media, it is important that we take time for ourselves! For a lot of us, that involves spending time with our furbabies… instant relaxation for us and for them!
For most of us, but especially for our veterans, a dog is sometimes a lifeline. Many soldiers return home with battle scars that are both seen and unseen. Dogs provide companionship, unconditional love and emotional support. They help to ease stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety. They also can help people overcome trauma, encourage physical exercise and raise self-esteem.
Having a dog helps prevent social isolation as well, because having a dog leads to more interaction with people. When you’re out walking your dog, you tend to talk to people more than when you’re alone. It’s been said that dog owners are happier because people/dog interaction results in an increase in dopamine levels in the brain of both humans and dogs. For most, the bonds made are immediate and forever, benefiting both humans and the animals.
Luke, a veteran, said, “You would think that a dog is just a dog. That may be true for some, but not me. I used to sit at home alone and just let life pass me by, but now I have a reason to get up. Even if it’s feeding Samson, or taking him for walks, he has motivated me to live again.”
And Adam, also a veteran, said, “He’s more than just a friend. He’s my battle buddy. He’s my left hand. We’re connected by a leash, but it’s really our umbilical cord. He’s sometimes more tuned into me than I’m tuned into me. He knows more about me than I do sometimes. He lets me know what’s going on.”
There are many organizations that will help match veterans with a companion dog. We work/partner with Soldier’s Best Friend, a non-profit based in Arizona (soldiersbestfriend.org), but there are also organizations like Pets for Vets (petsforvets.com), that help with placement, too.
And let’s not forget about our furry felines. Studies show that cats can also trigger calming chemicals in the body, decreasing stress and anxiety levels. Plus, cat owners are less likely to be at risk for having a stroke than any other pet owner. Cats can even reduce our risk of heart disease and heart attacks and help reduce high blood pressure. They help to boost immunity as exposure to pet dander and fur in the house results in increased resistance to allergens, decreasing the risk for allergies and asthma. Just like dogs, they are very perceptive to our emotions and illness. I can have a bad day, come home and sit on the couch, and my cat will jump right up in my lap. There is something very relaxing about sitting there, petting them, unwinding and even telling them about my day.
Not only does having a pet help you, it helps them. You’ve given them a home and they provide you many health benefits and unconditional love. They don’t talk back, they don’t judge us, and they love us more than they love themselves!
If you’re looking for your new furever friend, there are a lot of great animals at Yavapai Humane Society just waiting for their furever home! Check out yavapaihumane.org for all the available animals and then make an appointment to come meet them. It’ll do your heart and mind good! QCBN
By Loree Walden
Loree Walden is the Yavapai Humane Society marketing manager.