COMMENTARY | A dog or cat can reduce your stress

November 29, 2011 

Human friends can provide social support, but furry friends -- cats and dogs -- can provide a whole lot more.

You had a bad day at work, your boss was pushing you to do more than you possibly can. On the way home an aggressive driver cuts you off in traffic. Someone took your assigned parking space in your complex. You walk through your front door in a bad mood. A pair of loving puppy eyes meets yours or a super soft cat rubs against your leg. In an instant, your attention is directed to your pet.

Your dog licks your face. Your cat snuggles into your neck. Before you know it, your mood has been changed. A smile comes across your face. Your bad day is over.

Pets provide unconditional love and are always there for you in ways people can’t. Pets offer love and companionship. Pets can also enjoy comfortable silences and are excellent snugglers. Pets may also be an antidote to loneliness. Pets don’t judge us, they just love us. Their behavior is predictable and constant. They will always be there for you.

The holiday season is here and may provide for unexpected circumstances, both good and bad. Did you survive Black Friday? Crowds, lines, more crowds. Did you get everything you set out to pick up? Maybe, maybe not, no matter. Those of you who own pets were probably met at the door by your pet when you got home. You probably sat on the couch, exhausted, not wanting to move. Your dog or cat was by your side or in your lap. You can close your eyes and relax. The shopping stress is over, your best friend by your side.

You share some Thanksgiving leftovers while preparing for your next shopping venture, Cyber Monday. This time, you did not have to leave your pet behind.

Pets can also encourage you to exercise. Whether you walk your dog because he needs it or maybe you are more likely to walk because you have companionship, dog owners are more likely to walk than those who do not have a dog for a pet. Because exercise is good for stress management and overall health, owning a dog can increase these benefits.

A dog or cat is always there for you. A dog or cat will make you smile, even if it’s not your own. If you have ever watched videos of the antics of dogs and cats, most will make you laugh.

Who needs the stress of the day when you have a pet to take it all away.

For those of you who don’t have a pet, talk with friends who do, look on the internet and with a bit of research you may be able to find one that is most like you. The staff at Animal Services can assist you with choosing a pet. Start out by looking at our website where you will find a wide variety of dogs and cats.

If you see one you may like, write down the animal ID number, call our office and put your name on it. Then, come to Animal Services and look at the dogs and cats. You just may find each other; a companion for life, a best friend, an exercise partner, relief for the stress of the day. Your beloved pet, provider of unconditional love, asking for nothing in return.

Having a pet is not always for everyone. Pets do come with additional responsibilities. For most people, the benefits of having a pet outweigh the additional responsibilities. Realizing the benefits of having a pet, who wouldn’t want one?

Adopt your new family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don’t forget about our November adoption special. We have Falling Prices. Adopt any dog or cat for 30 percent off the regular adoption fee. Dogs are $56 and cats are $42 this month, which includes the required license certificate and tag. A microchip is also included.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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