When I was in high school I had this pet store produced T-shirt. It had pictures of pets and grandparents with the slogan “Pets are Family.” I wanted to take a moment and write about pets.
I recently read an article about dogs in movies. It was fun to read. It made me happy. It made me appreciate how much I love my current dogs and miss my old dogs. It made me appreciate my wife for bringing those four-legged furry creatures into my life. I recently returned home from a long day at work and Stilton our golden doodle and Rosie our puppy greeted me kindly and quickly went back to their game of wrestling over chew toys. I wondered where our other dog Jimmy was hiding out and why he didn’t come to say hi. I went down stairs and my wife was watching TV and I saw Jimmy there. I noticed that he was looking at me wanting to say Hi and maybe take a quick stroll upstairs to check out what the other dogs were doing, but he kept looking back at my wife and then at me and it was almost as if he was saying “Vic you’re important to me and I love you and I’d love to hang out with you and the other dogs, but your wife needs me right now and I’m going to stay here and make sure she’s safe and comfortable and happy….and she’s watching food network and if I’m lucky a piece of chicken might jump out of the TV and fall on the floor so I’m staying right here.”
With that as a backdrop I wanted to write about the benefit of pets and how they help us in our daily lives. When I first started working in the mental health field, I had a job working with teenage boys who struggled with mental illness, behavior problems, and emotional disturbances. My job was to teach and model skills in their homes and community to help them improve their ability to cope with their challenges. I remember on several occasions asking the boys I worked with about their coping skills and what they did to calm down when they were sad or angry. On several occasions the skill that was most often identified was some variation of “I pet my cat” or “I take my dog for a walk” or “I hug my dog.” While observing that I started thinking about how those pets were a constant in the lives of my clients and made it possible for them to cope with really difficult situations.
Pets can be a constant in our lives providing comfort and support
Last summer I wrote about the importance of having pets in our lives:
“Recently I’ve been thinking about the importance of constants in my life. I’ve come to appreciate people, places, and things that are constant. Constants ground us and provide comfort and safety. They help us when we’re down, stressed or confused. They provide structure and clarity when we least expect it, and a host of other things. About three months ago, one of our dogs started aging quickly, and we could tell that she was sick. The last time she went to the vet, the vet said that she wasn’t doing too well, and that it was only a matter of time……Last week we made the decision to let her go and it got me thinking about this idea of constants. When you have a dog that you love you get used to that constant in your life. Lillie was one of those constants. After a long day at work she was always there to greet you at the door and lick your face. She was always ready and willing to take a nap with you or watch your favorite TV show. She always laid in the perfect spot and cuddled like no other. She was always willing to be the mother hen and yap at strangers when they threatened the family. She was short, stout, and tough. She was also sweet and had the perfect amount of sass, for those times when our new puppy was testing limits, she taught him how to behave. She was a constant no matter what life through at you……”
In conclusion: Thanks Pets for all you do. Vic
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