THE WYSONG e-HEALTH LETTER 826
~Thoughts for Thinking People~

 

PETS - GOOD FOR WHAT AILS US

As our modern world becomes more urbanized, populated, and technologically dependent, individuals can feel lost in the crowd and isolated. Person-to-person contact is less and less essential in day-to-day life. Telephones, faxes and computers have replaced handshakes, hugs and personal friendship. The internet age will exponentially speed this fundamental change in interpersonal relations.
   
People separating from one another leaves something behind. There is an inherent need in each of us to experience contact, socially and physically. Warm, personal friendships and loving and caring touch create feelings of worth and security not easily replaced by e-mail or chat-rooms.
  
Impersonal distance in modern life can also create pathologies ranging from road rage to overt violence: cars are impersonal things in our way and driven by devils; the Columbine tragedy is believed due in large part to the sheer impersonal size of the school. Enemies are easily created when they are nameless and faceless. For example, the best way to defuse a terrorist is to talk with them, make eye contact and get personal.

Modern life also estranges us from our natural environmental roots. Asphalt, drywall and fluorescent lights are a far cry from meadows, trees and stars. There is a yearning within each of us, a biophilia as it has been called, to connect with nature. A walk in the woods, planting a garden, visiting a wilderness and catching a glimpse of wild creatures does something quite indescribable for the soul. The peace, inspiration and pleasure brought by contact with nature is downright therapeutic. Nature draws us to it like a magnet. The further we get from it, the less whole we feel.
  
 Our need for love, closeness and touching, and connection with nature, is what draws us to pets and makes that contact so beneficial. Although domesticated, pets are still quite "wild" with senses and abilities that still make them suited for survival in nature. Our close relationship with them keeps nature ever near...and in a very convenient, safe, cuddly and loving form, I might add.
   
The simplicity of the human-animal bond is what makes it so endearing, particularly today in our complex world. Feed them, treat them kindly, clearly define your expectations of them and you have a friend for life who will love unquestioningly.
   
The psychological and physical benefits to humans from pet companionship are enormous. The following summarizes just some of the benefits documented by scientific and clinical studies. A pet in a languishing nursing home can breathe new life into those who have given up. Almost every measure of improvement in the disabled is benefited by pets, including motor skills, balance, self-esteem, mood, attention span, memory, vocabulary and overall health. Children who are physically ill or socially maladapted similarly benefit. Remarkably, anyone can experience health benefits from companion animals. Recovery is hastened, blood pressure reduced, will to live increased, immunity enhanced and mental balance maintained.
  
Pets can bring out the best in us. They help us empathize, focus outward, nurture, develop rapport, have fun, teach socialization, stimulate mentally and spiritually, provide unquestioned nonjudgmental acceptance and teach loving touch. Even watching fish in an aquarium can decrease heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety. Pets put us in touch with that good and kind inner being we so sparingly let out.

Pet ownership brings with it responsibilities not unlike those toward our own children. They too require love, attention, kindness, and touch, and that their physical needs be met properly. It is more than a roof over their head, a soft bed or pouring food trinkets in a bowl every day. All of the considerations for health for all members of the family must be extended to the pet as well. Perhaps even more intelligence must be applied to their needs since they are totally dependent upon us, unable to make any real choices as they would in the wild.

Best of health to you and yours from all of us here at Wysong.