Finding joy in furry friends

Laughs, stress-relief, and love

In a time when many of us are staying home, it can get difficult to find things to do. Sometimes it can even feel a little lonely. Luckily, SAIL Members are finding joy from their pets during this time: Going for walks, cuddling, learning new tricks, and more!

Lovie lounges and looks adoringly at her owner, Mary

“Cuddly, cute, capricious, curious, sometimes crazy, my cat Lovie endlessly entertains me, and I love her DEARLY,” says Mary Lathrop of her five-year-old black and white cat. Lovie came from the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin in Janesville, where she was picked up at only 3 months old. I met Mary last fall and saw just what a wonderful personality Lovie has. She guards Mary and the house and takes her job very seriously! She loves to play with glasses of water and climb around on the furniture.

That entertainment and love are key elements to surviving stressful times and having a better life overall. Scientific studies have found that pets are a great way to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Even if you’re not feeling particularly stressed, a pet can still be wonderful for your overall well-being. The feeling of being needed and loved unconditionally adds a sense of importance and can help you focus.

The joy of a new life

Christine and baby Phebe

SAIL Member Christine Beatty says her new Schnauzer puppy, Phebe, has definitely helped her during the pandemic. “She helps me focus on someone else, and taking care of her and getting her trained,” Christine says. She decided to get a puppy a few months ago, and when she picked one out, she had to wait eight weeks to bring her home! “The breeder was kind enough to send me pictures,” Christine says. “The anticipation gave me something to focus on.”

Now, Christine has a growing baby dog who is full of energy and fun. Christine notes that her family has always had very large dogs because her husband was 6″7 and he didn’t want to walk a tiny dog! Christine now lives alone and chose a small dog for herself this time around. “She’s much easier to handle.”

Christine also enrolled herself and Phebe, who gets her name from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in an online dog training course. She has enjoyed meeting other people and their puppies from the safety of home. “We’re working on her ‘sits’ and her ‘stays,’ ” Christine says lovingly.

There’s one small drawback, Christine says. “Potty breaks can happen at one in the morning and again at five, and once she’s up at five she’s ready to go for the day!” So much for sleeping in!

Supporting the health of older adults

Pets are especially beneficial for older adults. Not only do they help with mental health and focus, but they can actually lower blood pressure, fend off heart disease, and battle dementia. Much of this is due to the exercise portion of having a pet, whether it’s playing with a cat and a feather toy or getting out to walk a dog.

Exercise isn’t the only benefit, though. The action of petting an animal or receiving love from it gives a sensory pleasure that immediately boosts mood. This is why therapy animals are so popular with all ages. Their silliness can bring a laugh, their sweetness a smile, and their kisses a beautiful memory.

Love, identity, and volunteering!

SAIL Member Dana Schreiber treasures her dog, a 17-year-old poodle named Pierre. “There aren’t words for what a comfort my dog is,” Dana says. “I love having him here all the time. He gets me out to walk him in gloomy moments. He gives me joy just watching him.” Dana also reflects, “I also have finally realized at 72 that I am what I always wanted to be: a girl and her dog.”

Pierre the poodle with Mom Dana Schreiber, helping travelers at the Dane County Regional Airport.

Dana and Pierre have also spent a lot of time at the Dane County Airport, where Pierre worked as a stress-reducing dog. He and Dana would walk around the airport to calm anxious travelers. With a scarf around his neck that read “Pet me please,” Pierre sent many a traveler on their way carrying less stress with their luggage.

Finding your next best friend

Thinking about getting a pet? Petfinder.com is a wonderful tool. You can enter your zip code on the homepage and find animals for adoption in the area. The search tool will automatically search up to 100 miles from you, but you can edit that in the top left hand corner. You can also narrow your search on the left hand side to find the animal that could be your newest family member!

If you have a pet story or picture you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it! Give the office a call at 608-230-4321 or e-mail info@sailtoday.org.

We hope you are staying safe and healthy, along with the furry friends that may grace your life!

Further Reading

Research on the health benefits of pets – Pets for the Elderly

Alleviating anxiety, stress, and depression with the pet effect – AADA

Pets make us happier, healthier – Psychology Today

Story on Dana and Pierre the poodle – Wisconsin State Journal

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