THERE are many theories that suggest pets increase people's wellbeing on all levels - physically, emotionally and mentally.
Families with pets are likely to relate better when life is tough.
One such instance was when a woman's son died tragically and she felt she would surely go mad from the relentless emotional pain.
None of her friends or family had experienced such a loss and, in trying to comfort her, often said or did things unintentionally that magnified her pain.
Because we care, humans want to fix things but what the mum really wanted and needed was time to heal and someone to hug and hold her and care for her without expectation.
She later contributed part of her emotional recovery to the love she received from the family pet: a cat called Tia. She said that whenever she was sobbing in agony and terror Tia would leap up into her arms, nuzzle into her neck and meow, wail-like, with her. She remembers thinking that her distress could kill Tia because the sound Tia made was so gut-wrenching.
The mother was profoundly comforted by this loving bond with Tia, who was there for her on a level that no other human could provide. At her worst moments, it was Tia she sobbed and ranted and raved with.
Pets provide a bond like no other.
Examples include dogs and horses who help us maintain good physical health by walking and riding them.
While exercising in this way, our anguished thoughts can be replaced with more peaceful thoughts and emotionally we benefit because of the pleasure we feel. We can talk to animals and they won't answer back or give an opinion. Hallelujah!
In really tough times, when all else fails, get a pet and your family will bond healthily because of it.
Shirley Cornish Counselling, Relationship Specialist and Health Coach.
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