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The Effect of Pet Ownership on Overall Health: How Does Your Pet Affect You?

By June 25, 2008 - 5:37pm
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On one of tonight's national television evening news programs, there was a story about how a case against a man convicted of abusing a young girl in his care was helped by a dog trained to instill trust and confidence in such young witnesses and plaintiffs. The furry buddy, named "Buddy," helped ease the young girl's fear of talking about the abuse in preparation for her courtroom testimony.

You've probably also read or heard about how bringing dogs or cats into a nursing home helps uplift the spirits of the residents. On the radio during my morning commute today, the weekly pet adoption feature included a discussion of how children raised with pets grow up to be more emotionally stable and responsible than other children who do not grow up with pets.

Which brings me to my questions:

If you have one, are you cognizant of how your mood changes when you do something simple like pet your furry buddy?

Do you think having a pet has made your children better people?


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For years, we've had a desert tortoise that has milled around our back yard and believe it or not -- has provided us with hours of entertainment.

As strange as it sounds while she has no fur to pet, I find her presence calming. The first reason is -- she's deliberate. She chews deliberately, she moves deliberately and I would describe her as extremely persistent. In a world where distractions are the norm, if I can escape for five minutes to watch her, I'm reminded of the simple pleasures of being single-minded and that definitely provides me with a sense of peace.

The second reason is there is something very 'prehistoric' -- dare I say timeless -- about her. One of my nephews remarked that with her elephant-like legs and her toothless mouth, she looks like a dinosaur, which I comprehend. Most startling for me is that this creature that seemed to be dredged up from the past will outlive me -- making her part of the future. She comes from an ancient place and she will continue long after I'm gone. In her world, I'm just a blip on the radar screen which helps keep my life in perspective and makes the day-to-day grind much easier to confront.

In a related topic, a robotic baby seal will be making its way into nursing homes and is "being marketed as a therapeutic device that can help comfort people who have dementia, autism or other problems that can lead to social isolation."

Thoughts? Think this will work?

June 25, 2008 - 7:18pm
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