I have a new man in my life. His name is Chandler; he is 8weeks old and absolutely adorable. Introducing him makes me remember kindergarten and doing ‘show and tell’. He is meant to make me more accountable and responsible. Pets are also good for therapy (Animal Assisted Therapy), but all of that doesn’t matter, he is beautiful. My mum has been trying to make me get a dog for weeks, after last night I impulsively accepted a puppy off my boss’ friend, probably the best decision I’ve made in months. Here’s to getting better. He even made me stay home and not drink on a Saturday night because I didn’t want to leave him home alone.
Krause-Parello asserts that pets provide unconditional love which reaffirms a person’s sense of empathy, creating an enhanced connection with the world. It is believed that pets help to build a person’s self-worth, creating a sense of control and constancy, providing loyalty and predictability. “I can’t do bad things to myself because I have to look after my little ball of fluff”. Some cross-sectional studies suggest that pets positively generate both physical and psychological health, with fewer annual health visits. Pets also provide social support; high levels of social support predict improvements in depression. It has been estimated that 16.5 million adults suffer from depression. As a female adult I have a higher likelihood of suffering depression due to genetic, biological, chemical, hormonal, environmental, psychological and social factors (yay….great). Social integration is also enhanced through the ownership of a pet, by showing common interests with others and concerns for their pets.
Pets may serve as a coping resource to assist in lessening feelings of social isolation and aid in emotional support, which is linked to lowering depression. Other studies suggest that the relationship between pet ownership and better health is probably causal and not just correlational. The objecting factor surrounds the question whether healthier people acquired pets in general rather than becoming healthier as a consequence of pet ownership. The analysis by S. Matuszek argues that animals become vehicles for redemption, ultimately dependent on their human counterparts, encouraging a greater sense of responsibility and reducing the opportunity for the owner to lapse into risky behaviour. It needs to be noted that animal-facilitated therapy is strongly biased towards an advocacy positon. Before becoming a pet owner due consideration needs to be made in regard to the beneficial versus the detrimental effect on the owner’s health, determining the contribution of the pet to the owner’s quality of life. People need to understand that pets don’t specifically enhance health; rather they contribute to the value of the relationship in creating a better quality of life.
Whilst I love my new puppy so much, I have this inner doubt at my own ability to keep it alive, waiting for the moment where I accidently hurt him or he falls. Worrying that he isn’t eating enough or staying hydrated in this hot heat, hoping he doesn’t runaway during a thunderstorm. He makes me smile, but I just have an inner misguided feeling that all of these things could go wrong and he would be the one to suffer. I haven’t had a pet of my own in years, I truly hope his companionship will make me feel less lonely; my house is always empty so it will be nice to have him. I will be the weird lady talking to her pets. I have enough social interactions, but sometimes their support isn’t enough, maybe this is what I needed. Guess I can just try my best, that’s all any of us can do.
Anxiety is through the roof, but hopefully that will fade with time.
Krause-Parello, C. (2012). Pet Ownership and Older Women: The Relationships Among Loneliness, Pet Attachment Support, Human Social Support, and Depressed Mood. Geriatric Nursing, 33(3), pp.194-203.
Matuszek, S. (2010). Animal-Facilitated Therapy in Various Patient Populations. Holistic Nursing Practice, 24(4), pp.187-203.
McNicholas, J. (2005). Pet ownership and human health: a brief review of evidence and issues. BMJ, 331(7527), pp.1252-1254.