I am from Houston and have many friends and family there so I’ve been glued to news reports about Hurricane Harvey. Many pictures show people wading through waist-deep water clutching their pets. I saw one woman floating with her poodle on an air mattress and a man carrying his large dog across his shoulders. I was so relieved to see the valiant rescuers making room in their boats and trucks for the animals. Those of us who love our pets consider them family members. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have to leave them behind.
Animals are not possessions. They are individuals who are good to us and for us. They comfort, entertain, protect and assist us and help us reconnect to the natural world and to each other. Studies show that stroking an animal lowers blood pressure and I’ve seen firsthand the beneficial effects on patients in nursing homes of four footed visitors. Personally, nothing is more soothing to me than holding a purring cat or feeling a wet canine nose nuzzling close.
Our animal companions ease loneliness because we have someone else to care for and interact with. The simple act of walking a dog gets us outside into the fresh air to exercise which improves our health and increases opportunities for social interaction. Dogs are not shy about meeting new people and their human is taken along for the ride. And cats are an endless source of entertainment.
I’ve loved animals all my life and rarely have been without an animal companion or two. Or three. OK, I’ll admit it. At one point I had seven—but that was because we lived on a country road where abandoned cats and dogs often found their way to our door. I’ll never understand how someone can desert an animal but that’s a subject for another day. Currently I have only one companion, this Ragdoll cat named Betsy. I adore her. I never have to guess what she wants. If she’s hungry she stands in front of the refrigerator. If she wants to play she dashes about like a kitten. If she wants attention she plops down in the middle of whatever I happen to be doing—like now as she’s strolling across my computer keys. When she’s had enough she walks away. Simple and uncomplicated. How nice it would be if all relationships were like that.
I have friends who are allergic (how awful!) and other who simply can’t understand why anyone would want an animal in their lives. They say animals are messy. They leave paw prints on the floor and fur on the furniture. There is poop to scoop or litter boxes to clean. They say animals are expensive. Food and toys and medicine add up and there are vet bills. They are correct–all that is true. But every morning when my Betsy awakens me with her sandpaper tongue bestowing kitty kisses I know all that is a small price to pay for the joy she brings.
Do you have animal companions in your life? Post some pics!