Thursday, August 13, 2009

DeStress Your Life - Part 6

Share your life with a pet - a snuggly one.

Studies show that people who share their homes with pets live longer and are happier and healthier. And I might add, have a built in de-stressor, that is, unless you come home and Rufus has eaten the living room furniture. Or your mastiff has had explosive diarrhea making your home look like a crime scene. (Oh how well I know.) But one look in their plaintiff eyes, and all is soon forgiven.


When my son was a baby, I would love to lay back and have him sleep on my chest, just feeling the ups and downs of his gentle breath. Now, when I am needing comfort or destressing, I snuggle with one of my little pups, feeling their love and breath and we bond together. My friends with pets know that sometimes, we just have to retreat to the sofa or the bed and call the entire pack up to cuddle with us. It doesn't get much better than that.

It is probably the unconditional love that is the stress reducer with pets. Why not? In this crazy and chaotic world, who isn't comforted by unconditional acceptance and love; heck, toss in a little adoration and we are all suckers for a wagging tail and a cold nose.

I once had a dog named Steve, a toy poodle, who spent nearly every day of his 15 years with me. He came to work each day when we had our family law practice. Steve was very dedicated to his job in the law office. He would always know who needed extra lap time. I realized this one day when his lunch was delivered (yes, he had an account at the local cafe, and my secretary would arrange for The Stevie Burger to be delivered to the office), I noticed he did not come out to greet the delivery person. I went to find him, and he was in a consult with my law partner, sitting on her weeping client's lap. Even though he loved his lunch, he instinctively knew that he was needed on this woman's lap at that time.

Another time, I was running behind with my appointments, and I went to the lobby to tell my next client that I would be a few minutes late and he sat there with tears in his eyes, holding Steve. He said, "Take your time. I can't remember when I have felt so loved as I do now."

When tears would happen at our law office, we handed the person Steve and a kleenex. Steve also knew that my law partner was a sucker for an afternoon nap. She would accuse him of coming into her office and baiting or seducing her to follow him into the nap room where they would both snuggle on the sofa for an afternoon siesta. She was at a loss for an excuse to nap after he passed away. Formerly it was, "Stevie made me do it."

If you live without a pet, and are able to have one -- consider how comforting it is to come home after a hectic day and be greeted like you are the best thing since mom's chopped liver. Consider that you may have an excuse for daily nature walks. Consider how soothing it is to cuddly with a snuggly critter who wants nothing from you but your kindness. Perhaps you would like to add a rescue dog or cat or hamster or guinea pig to your life. (Don't know if the latter two wag and walk, but may be fun to play with.)

Note photo of Maddie (above) - a snuggler supreme, available for rescue. I sat next to her at a meeting the other day. She was very well behaved, but periodically, she would touch me with her tiny paw, and when I would turn to look at her, she would smile at me. She is looking for someone to love with all of her great big Chihuahua heart.

Pets also encourage us to be the best we can be. Remember the saying: I strive to be the person my dog thinks I am.

1 comment:

Jan said...

I completely agree, Ann. There are measurable health benefits that result from the stress relief of pet ownership: lower blood pressure and a life that lasts - on average - 3 years longer. I have five dogs, so I expect to live an extra 15 years ;-)