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Everyone should have a pet, and here’s why

Taryn Christy, Guest Contributer

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Within the 21st century, the world has fallen victim to a mentality of tireless pursuit. Human nature compels us to pursue everything in our lives to extremes. We fall into a pattern of all or nothing, and function solely in hopes of external recognition or reward, such as a bonus-check or a promotion. Yet extrinsic motivation is flawed, for it relies on the opinions and actions of external factors or opinions which often can not be controlled by any one individual. In turn, life-satisfaction must start from within, and to achieve that, you must be able to gain a little bit of perspective. To own a pet is to possess a direct line to this perspective of greater happiness.

First and foremost, owning a pet has been scientifically proven to improve your mental and physical health. Imagine coming home from a long, cumbersome day of contributing to the workforce. You’ve been discussing issues and problem solving for hours on end, and you simply feel beat for the day. Now imagine coming home from that hard day, but sitting down for just five or ten minutes and petting a dog or a cat. According to Danielle Hark of Huffington post, you may not even realize it, but as you rhythmically pet your companion, “oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released, helping to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.” This means that the warm feeling of comfort and security you feel when petting and bonding with an animal is not a coincidence; your body is chemically reacting to the connection which you are creating with that animal. This creates a chain reaction. Those calming feelings you receive from petting your dog, cat, or even your bunny can remove you from the previously all-consuming events of your stressful day. Once you remove yourself from the day’s events, you will be more capable of amicable and positive interaction with friends and family members. These small, daily interactions with those crucial members of your life may seem simple and insignificant on a small scale, but they posses a great influence on the quality of your sociable experiences as a whole. Successively, opposing negative interactions can quickly accumulate and come to define your life in a negative light just as quickly as friendly diction can. In turn, a few moments of petting a loving, furry companion can provide you the light jolt you need to put a tough day into perspective, and continue to spread positivity with those whom you interact with daily.

Connecting with their ability to provide a greater perspective, pets promote healthy social and lifestyle habits in everyday life. Largely, these habits stem from the familial relationship and responsibility which forms between owners and pets. As a member of the family, the owner feels an innate duty to take care of their pet. This often includes activities such as playing with their pet, or in the case of a dog, taking them for a walk. Not only does this familial duty henceforth promote physical activity, but this often translates to greater sociability as well. As explained by PhD, Dana Casciotti of the National Center For Health Research, it has actually been proven that “walking with a dog has been found to increase social interaction, especially with strangers, compared to walking without a dog” As a cross-country athlete, I am often out on trails running, or at meets racing. These are largely public areas, and running is a very dog-friendly sport. One run on the trail can often lead to multiple interactions with another runner who has a dog with them, and cross-country meets alone often have too many dog attendees to count. Without fail, I make a point to stop and pet every single dog (as I’m sure many others would as well). Had these runners or meet attendees chosen to leave their furry friends at home, there is a very minimal chance that I would have shared any interaction with them at all.

Because at the end of the day, aren’t all of these humanizing realities of pet ownership really what life’s about? Inevitably, countless people will make the argument that, “I don’t have time to take care of a pet.” While this may be a valid point in the context of their current lifestyle, maybe it should serve as a wake-up call to take a step back and look at what they’re truly trying to achieve. For a life that is void of authentic, positive social interaction is a life which is simply lacking, and pets provide the incentive and the mindset for this lifestyle to be achieved. That isn’t to say that a healthy social life can’t be achieved without a pet, but only to say that pet ownership harmoniously and irrevocably supplements this crucial sentiment of human life. At the end of the day, everyone should own a pet as a reminder to love. Love your pets, love your family, and love the life that you choose for yourself.

 

 

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Everyone should have a pet, and here’s why