I think we can all agree that nothing warms your heart more than the unconditional love a pet provides. I can't help but smile when I come home and my little dog jumps and spins with happiness while he tries to shower me with kisses. There's been a lot of information recently on the health benefits one can reap just by spending time with a furry companion.
Opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
Opportunities for socialization
In addition to this, pets can play a pivotal role in the recovery of a serious illness. There are now many organizations that provide pet visits to hospitals and nursing homes. Sometimes the love of a pet is enough to keep a patient strong and can energize their fight for life. Sometimes the inability to care for that pet, and ultimate loss of the pet can have the opposite effect. Many people are forced to give up their pets when they become ill or are going through a health crisis.
I recently met an extraordinary woman by the name of Ann Marie Schrage-Glaviano. She went through a horrendous experience fighting Lupus. Ann Marie was lucky because she had a large support system. She had great friends that volunteered to help her through this battle. Not many people are as fortunate. This journey included months of chemotherapy and two strokes. Ann Marie fought hard and won.
Then Ann Marie had a vision. "Autoimmune mediated and other serious illnesses rob us of the only thing we truly possess, that being, time together. Pets are family, love as family, live as family. None should ever be left behind in any disaster. Disability is not a choice!" exclaims Ann Marie. Having a life long passion for pets combined with her personal experience in a life threatening illness inspired her to create PetsNPatients. Ann Marie has organized a national network of volunteers that can assist in caring for a pet when the owner is going through a health crisis. I don't have any scientific statistics but I can say from my heart that Ann Marie has probably saved many lives- human as well as pets.
If you're interested in getting your pet involved in a pet therapy program, here is a list of local organizations.
In my opinion, nothing can make you feel better than doing something to help others.