Posted by Pets Best on 4/7/2006 in General Articles
Companion animals have evolved over the last hundred years into a huge component of the human household and in many cases are considered a family member. Over half a million households in the United States share a home with a pet. The change in human perception of animals and their relationships has created a mutual necessity for domesticated pets in society. Animals are amazing creatures that have unique bonds between one another as well as with their human caretakers. They can provide us daily assistance in ways man can not and can positively benefit our health and longevity.
Many humans today would not choose to live without a companion cat or dog. In addition to serving as loyal family members some animals are able to assist us in our daily lives, even providing services another human could not perform. We have all heard of guide dogs for the blind and police dogs, but today dogs are used to detect seizures to allow an owner time to prepare before one strikes, such as pulling the car over. Canines are also being used to assist people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, in the course of the disease feet can freeze in place, while the rest of the body maintains motion causing a person to fall, a trained canine can either detect the feet are about to freeze or counterbalance the person until they regain use of their feet. It is also amazing that a canine can detect hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, allowing the owner to alleviate the condition before it becomes life threatening. Currently it is also being discovered that canines are capable of detecting cancer, a service that surely will be used a great deal in the future.
In addition to trained canines providing amazing services to their owners, companions pets that never work a day in their life can also greatly benefit their owners. Many humans find their pet is a fundamental reason for them to continue with this life, and many find having a pet combats loneliness. Furthermore many individuals feel much safer with a pet in the house and carry no worries when walking or running a pet on city streets. Pets are able to offer their owners an impressive array of traits such as loyalty, enjoyment, company, and safety.
…Studies are showing the presence of an animal can positively affect blood pressure, heart rates, and cholesterol…
The health benefits being discovered that pets offer their caretakers as well as the sick or elderly is absolutely astounding. Studies are showing the presence of an animal can positively affect blood pressure, heart rates, and cholesterol. Many elderly respond to animals in ways they would not respond to a person, they may exhibit higher degrees of alertness, attentions and even reach out to touch the animal. Pets have even proven an ability to eliminate depression, and decrease feelings of fear and anxiety. Horses for many years now have been able to aid those with physical disabilities by influencing the patient’s posture, bodily movements, balance and physical functions.
Due to the huge role pets play in our lives and the correlation with a pet’s shorter lifespan can make loss and bereavement overwhelming for anyone that has lost a faithful animal companion. It can be even more devastating when that pet also provided a much needed service. Approximately sixty percent of dogs sleep in our bedrooms, even a greater number greet us at the door and when times are bad they are always a reliable friend. When a pet passes there are defiantly stages of grief we must pass through, such as anger, depression and acceptance. One thing pets do teach people is how to deal with grief and letting go. Once we have accepted the loss we can freely move on with our lives and hold on to a cherished memory.
The same feelings of lose a human feels are being discovered as being felt by animals as well. Animals that have a close bond with another animal friend show physical signs of loss. Research on horses has shown they appear to feel devastated, eating less, acting withdrawn and at times this can adversely affect a healthy animal’s health. PET scans that show neurological activity have found that humans and animals show similar changes in brain activity when experiencing grief. Some even say that when one animal passes, if there is a close companion to let the other animal spend time with the remains. This can allow the living friend a chance to say goodbye and realize that the other has passed away. Once the animal no longer shows interest in the deceased companion than it should be removed. However be prepared for the grieving animal to display strange actions, some may be fearful, show no interest while others may seem to desire a good amount of time with the deceased.
Certain unique animals have been able to form some very unusual bonds that cross beyond the lines of normal behavior but aid to exhibit the importance of needed a friend. In a Kenyan sanctuary a rescued baby hippopotamus has taken to a one hundred and twenty year old tortoise. They can be caught sleeping and even swimming together. In a Tokyo zoo a live hamster labeled as snake food as become the best buddy to that snake. The snake has now overcome a dislike for frozen rodents and the staff has named and provides care for the hamster. These unique bonds represent the need for animals as well as humans to bond with other living beings and by doing so we can gain the wealth of talents only certain species hold, enriching everyone’s life.
Sources: dvmnews.org; msnbc.com; peteducation.com; vetpurdue.edu