Gratitude, Research

What Has Your Dog or Cat Done for You Lately?

When I was cleaning up some of my digital photos this past week, I ran across the above baby picture of our dog, Cody. He is such a handsome dog (truly, see below) that I had forgotten what an incredibly adorable pup he was as well.  I stared fondly at the photo, lost in nostalgia.  Afterwards, my mood was noticeably uplifted for quite some time. Coincidence? Probably not.

Kate, at Views and Mews, often refers to herself as “waitstaff” for her four cats. I can totally relate. In fact, I often banter with my husband that in Cody’s eyes, my husband’s primary purpose in life is to provide exercise, entertainment and transportation, and mine is to provide food and drink. “What have you done for me lately?” I will often tease Cody, as he hangs out, rather impatiently, near his supper dish.

According to Time Magazine’s Special Edition “Animals and Your Health” (July 2016), Cody definitely pulls his weight. Research has repeatedly concluded that owning a pet reduces blood pressure in stressful situations and pet owners tend to have lower heart rates than their non-pet-owning counterparts. In one of a myriad of examples, heart patients who left the hospital after treatment were much more likely to survive if they owned a pet.  (Animals & Your Health, p 20)

More and more, pets have been used to help comfort survivors of terrible tragedies, revive long-forgotten memories for Alzheimer’s patients, sniff out cancer and detect harmful bacteria in water. They have also been found to lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease, help combat post-traumatic stress disorder, reduce loneliness, provide overall emotional support and ease the aging process…to list only some proven benefits of human interaction with their pets. (Animals & Your Health, p. 6)

In fact, “simply petting a dog generally decreases both blood pressure and heart rate and appears to raise levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being.” (Animals & Your Health, p. 10) In addition to this, ‘Emotional Support Animals’ are now common alternatives to traditional medicines. (Animals & Your Health, p. 8)

In the US and Canada, more households have pets than have children. (Animals & Your Health, p. 6) In fact, 57 percent of Canadian households have pets which equates to 7.5 million homes. (Source) While the figures of what many people spend on their pets can be staggering (in 2015, it was estimated that pet owners in the US spent over 60 billion dollars caring for their animals), the benefits of pet ownership may be incalculable. (Source)

As for Cody…he doesn’t chase balls, doesn’t fetch sticks, does not reliably sit on command (see last post) and is an absolutely lousy watchdog. Regardless, throughout the last eleven years, he has been intricately woven into the fabric of our family’s pack. He has provided countless adventures, endless stories, and unparalleled laughter. Daily, he has ensured that we have gotten off of the couch, out of the house and into the fresh air. When we moved back to Canada and into our new home, he quickly introduced us to more neighbors than we would have met on our own.  Yes, Cody has definitely found his way into our hearts. Our lives have been forever enriched because of it.

What about you? If you have a four-legged critter in your life (or own a bird, or fish or reptile….) what has your pet done for you lately?




























Print Source:

Bjerklie, David (Ed.). (July, 2016). Animals & Your Health: The Power of Pets to Heal Our Pain, Help Us Cope, and Improve our Well-Being. Time Magazine Special Edition.


15 thoughts on “What Has Your Dog or Cat Done for You Lately?”

  1. I’m a believer 🙂

    I’m owned by a huge furball of a cat namedTheo. He was a rescue and he came into our home 5 years ago at the age of 4. He quickly wrapped us tightly around his paw and we’ve been his slaves ever since.
    There hasn’t been a day when he hasn’t managed to make me laugh. Even my husband who was adamant we would never have a pet, is completely smitten 🙂


    1. It sounds like Theo and Cody share some similar traits — make us their slaves — and fill the house with laughter. Like Kate said, “this sounds like a great deal to me”. Thanks for sharing this.


  2. I’m hoping that my cats will let me eek out a couple extra years of good life in exchange for the constant attention and service they need. Sounds like a good exchange to me. Don’t tell them I don’t mind. They already think they are rock stars. Thanks for the link.


  3. We’ve made the choice to not have a dog or cat right now because we want to travel without that complication. But, as soon as we settle down, I am definitely visiting our local shelter to remedy the situation. I know that our lives will be richer when we do.

    Cody is indeed gorgeous!


  4. We get so much pleasure from watching the animals in our life. We are now watching hummingbirds, finches and squirrels. Our pet cat, RV, disappeared a while ago so we have moved our love to animals that don’t really need us yet seem to like our company. That is what it is all about don’t you think?


    1. Hi, Barbara – I totally agree. The research was clear that it is the animals in our lives that count the most…they do not need to live in our homes. Thanks for sharing.


  5. We have two pets, a dog (Kate) and a cat (Oliver) who round out our little family now that all our human children are out on their own. Oliver is a rescue cat who spent most of the first year of his life in a tiny cage in the animal shelter until we adopted him. He is the most pleasant fellow imaginable, and has never ceased to be grateful for becoming part of our family. Kate, on the other hand, is a pampered “valley girl” full of energy and enthusiasm. She keeps our lives interesting.


    1. Both Kate and Oliver sound like excellent additions to your family. We have a friend who has a rescue dog that does a “happy dance” every time his dinner (dry kibble) is served. Pets definitely do keep our lives interesting!


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