Here is how having a pet will improve your mental health

Most pet owners consider pets part of the family.  If you have a pet, you probably find the companionship soothing.  And you may not be surprised to hear that science agrees with you.  Studies show that relationships with pets make you feel happier and healthier. 

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The power of pets

Pet owners take comfort in the soft purr of a beloved cat or the wagging tail of the family dog.  Experts explain that the responsibilities associated with pet ownership give a sense of purpose, and pets also offer unconditional love. 

People with mental illnesses especially rely on their pets.  NPR cites recent studies and notes, “People with mental illnesses often see their social groups shrink and find themselves alienated from their friends. For many of these people … animals can break through the isolation. They give affection without needing to understand the disorder.”  In one of the studies, participants were asked to rank relationships. They considered their pets closer than family members, therapists and friends. 

The results are compelling.  Some professionals feel so strongly about using pets for mental illness therapies they’re incorporating animals into their programs.  Researchers found a number of specific ways pets improve mental health: 

●      Fresh air and sunshine.  Getting outside with your pet not only gets you moving but exposes you to vitamin D from the sun.  Vitamin D is proven to fight cancer, improve heart health, and lowers depression. 

●      Reduces stress.  Petting an animal releases oxytocin, a feel-good chemical in your body that lowers the stress hormone cortisol. 

●      Live in the moment.  Pets engage you in a way that keeps your mind in the present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. 

●      Good company.  Pets ease loneliness.  Some pets are sensitive to your mood and seek you out when you feel blue. 

Assistance for addicts

Some researchers found that companion animals have great healing potential for addiction. With as little as one hour per week interacting with shelter dogs, participants in a study exhibited fewer negative feelings like depression and anger. 

Fins, fur or feathers

It turns out that as far as making you feel good, the kind of pet doesn’t much matter.  According to Time, researchers found strong evidence that all sorts of animal interaction is beneficial.  Studies looked at pets such as horses, dogs, fish and crickets.  They revealed that people of all ages and with a variety of disorders routinely found comfort engaging with animals.

Other options

Pets are not for everyone.  Sometimes the responsibilities or expenses are prohibitive, or the timing isn’t right for other reasons.  Here are some things to think about before committing to a pet:

●      What will you do with your pet when you travel?

●      Do you have the money to cover veterinary and other expenses?

●      Are you ready for the daily care of a pet?

●      Some pets live a decade or more.  Are you willing to take on a long-term commitment?

●      If you suffer from severe anxiety or depression, will a pet add to your stress level?

You have other options if pet ownership isn’t right for you.  ReachOut suggests any of the following:

●      Help at an animal shelter

●      Pet sit for a traveling family member or friend

●      Walk or lounge with a pet belonging to a buddy or relative

Your coping companion

Pets are great additions to mental health therapies.  They provide companionship that can provide mental and physical health boosts, and it seems almost any sort of animal interaction is valuable.  If owning a pet isn’t a good choice for you, find ways to spend time with companion animals.  However you decide to add animals to your lifestyle, you will reap the mental health benefits.

Written by Cindy Aldrige

Perfect Fit: Dog Friendly Living

Finding The Right Home For You & Your Dogs

 

For many people, a dog is much more than just a pet. It’s a member of the family, maybe even closer to having a child than an animal. Whether you just have one dog or several, you work hard to take care of them.

 

When you need to move into a new home, your dogs can complicate things a bit. You’re moving them as well, so you need to take their needs into account. From packing to settling into a new place, read on for some tips for making sure this move works for your entire family. It all starts with asking some questions beforehand.
 

Image Source: Pixabay

What To Ask Before Buying

Obviously, you’re going to look for a house that fits your needs, but there are a few questions to ask in order to find a pet-friendly house that meets your dogs’ needs as well.

  1. Are there any laws in your prospective hometown limiting what breeds you can have?

  2. Is there a housing association that limits breeds, weights, and sizes of dogs permitted?

  3. Will there be enough space (inside the home and outside in the yard) for your dogs?

Energetic and large dogs don’t work well in small places, whereas small dogs often prefer a mix of space and tight quarters.

 

Once you know the rules, there are a few additions questions you need answers to, such as:

  • Is the backyard secured by a fence?

  • Do the neighbors have dogs that will create a barking cacophony when yours arrive?

  • Are there stairs that an older pet dog cannot climb?

  • Are there any dog parks or good places to walk your dogs nearby?

  • Where is the closest vet, groomers, and kennel?

By having all these questions answered, you can save a lot of time and hassle when looking for a new place.

Tips For Packing & Moving

Now that you’ve found the right home, you have to start packing up. Dogs crave stability, but packing and moving take that away. Here are a few tips for making sure your dogs get through these processes.

  • Pack slowly. By making changes slowly over weeks or even months, there’s less stress for your dogs to endure.

  • As moving day gets closer, take your dogs on more walks to help them stay relaxed.

  • Leave your dogs’ belongings (toys, beds, bowls, etc.) to pack last. This lets dogs have some predictability while things are changing in their home environment.

  • Consider keeping your dogs with a friend or dog sitter on moving day. This will avoid stressing out your dogs while making sure they’re not underfoot while you try to carry heavy boxes to the truck. (And if you’re hiring movers, this helps even more.)

Helping Your Dog Adjust

Moving day has finally ended. You pick up your dogs and take them to their new home. At first, they’ll likely be excited — but that can fade as they realize the old home isn’t coming back. That’s why you need to help your dogs adjust to their new home.

 

Redfin recommends that you start back on your dogs’ normal routine. Feed, walk, and play at the same times you used to. Again, dogs want predictability, and sticking to the old routine will help tremendously. You’ll also want to spend some time playing with them and taking them for walks around the neighborhood.

A New Place For All Of You

Moving is always a bit stressful, but it’s worse for dogs since they don’t know what’s going on. Since they are part of your family, you need to get some answers before moving. Then slowly pack up your belongings and find a dog sitter for moving day. Once everyone is in the new place, help your dogs adjust to their new environment. This way, all of you can love your new home.

 

Written by Cindy Aldrige

RAD Dog Rescues: Mitchell

"The story of how my dog, Mitchell was born starts with a couple of amazing women, Jen & Michelle doing outreach helping dogs on Long Island. In February of 2015 they had their eyes on helping these 3 chained pitt mixes, 2 small dog mixes and a litter of emaciated puppies that were being sold off. The puppies were living inside the house while the others were chained / kept outside with no shelter. The owners of the house used it for a prostitution ring, drug dealing and dog breeding for dog fights. There was an unfortunate event where several dogs mauled a person in the house and those dogs had to be euthanized. Soon, something needed to be done about the remaining dogs. As PMAR took on the two small mixes it became obvious that one female was pregnant, fearing she would need a c-section as she was only about 25 lbs to the males 80-90 pounds. 

 

This is where Mitchell's story actually starts, being born in a warm and loving foster home in VT. This foster home also took care of his mom and aunt and did everything to save the puppies. Not everyone in the litter survived and Mitchell was almost adopted out to another family but because he was seen to have hind end oddness (that he most likely got from being squished in his little momma) they passed on him. Today, Mitchell is healthy and athletic. He loves to run and play. He even joins Vermont Dog Pack’s Camp to run with his friends. He’s living a great life along with the other dogs and puppies that came out of this horrible situation. 

 

Pibbles and More Animal Rescue took the two small girl dogs together (the same bitch that gave birth to Mitchell 2 weeks later). A Home Fur Now Rescue took the 3 chained boys. And Victory 4 the Voiceless Animal Rescue took some of the other puppies. This is more of Mitchell’s families story and what she and the other dogs and puppies went through in Long Island.

 

This story is a bit long and complicated, but that’s probably how most of our dog’s parents lives were and how rescuing dogs can be. It’s easy to stop at our personal dogs story but if we look back we see how bad it has been for some of their parents and how that misfortune is passed down or sometimes turned into a fortunate situation thanks to the volunteers and shelters. I’m fortunate to know the true story that is the rescue that lead to my dog, Mitchell’s life."

RAD Dog Rescues: Baloo!

We recently got to join Green Mountain Canine Camp for a pack walk and met the sweetest dog ever, Baloo! He has a great rescue story involving dog reactivity, a common problem that can make any dog owner feel uneasy about bringing their dog out in public, no matter how sweet they may be at home.  The power of research, training, and extra positive stimulus turned Baloo around and he LOVES his days on pack walks!  Read on to hear his story and make sure to check out  Green Mountain Canine Camp !

 

Steve and I have always believed in "adopt, don't shop."  We already had a black cat adopted from Addison County, but Steve always had dogs, and Jenn wanted one.  We immediately began looking on PetFinder.  Jenn wanted a big breed--maybe a Newfie or Bernese Mountain Dog--and those weren't always easy to find in local shelters.  We found a few young dogs and puppies that caught our eye, but they were usually taken by the time we inquired.  We saw Baloo's picture, and made arrangements to have him transported up from Tennessee.  He was never in a shelter, but he was part of a litter by a black lab who was rescued from her owner.  Baloo lived in a foster home with his litter mates until he was old enough to make the trip.  We were told that he had Bernese Mountain Dog in him, but who can ever really know?  We drove to Connecticut to meet the truck, and a very large, intimidating bald man came off the truck holding a complete teddy bear of a puppy.  We were in love immediately.  It was so amazing to see so many families there meeting their new family members, and dogs were wagging furiously as they met their forever parents.
He lived with us in our condo while we tried to sell it, and clearly learned all he knew from the cat.  He loved Church Street and the dog park.

Suddenly, once he was about a year old, he started attacking puppies.  We could no longer take him to the dog park or Church Street as he would lash out at other dogs.  As he grew, we realized he is a herding dog, and his exercise requirements are far above what we had been looking for or expected, but we committed to our beloved pup.  We were going to find a way for him to socialize and get exercise.  He was clearly depressed without it.  We found Off the Porch dog day camp shortly after our daughter was born.  It was a godsend for our boy.   He needed the structure of a good pack leader, and leash-free time.  When the owner moved to North Carolina, we were panicked.  But then we found Sara, and Baloo seamlessly joined her pack (along with other dogs from the other camp).  We would love to get a friend for him, but we are nervous about his dog reactivity.  At least this way he has friends to play with, and a pack leader he adores.  We can't thank Sara enough for providing such a lifeline for our "Schmooshy."

 

RAD Dog Rescues: Sailor and Maree

 

We recently received the story of Sailor, a dog who is so deeply loyal to his humans and was given a second chance after finding himself in unfortunate circumstances that left him homeless in the shelter....read below to see how Sailor came into Maree's life:  Sailor is the epitome of a dog who became a shelter animal due to circumstance.

 

" I've fostered hundreds of dogs and cats over the last 14 years. The majority of the dogs I fostered were rescues from the south, which were then transported and adopted out through @petrescueny. For many years, an angel of a woman named Joanie would drive a van full of dogs from high kill shelters in South Carolina to New York just about every other weekend. She was a truck driver with a big heart, and an incredible love of dogs. Joanie made the painstaking decision to have gastric bypass surgery, and died during recovery. She was only in her mid-forties. Joanie's big heart extended beyond dogs. She had opened up her home to a homeless veteran named Bobby, and his canine companion, Sailor. When she passed, Bobby and Sailor were going to be homeless again. Bobby stayed in Joanie's trailer with Sailor for weeks after she died, with no electricity, despite the blistering summer heat. He knew that once Joanie's trailer went into foreclosure, he would be homeless again. He was heartbroken, but decided Sailor would be better off with someone who could afford to care for him. I met another transporter half way to pick Sailor up and drive him to the shelter in NY. She told me that Bobby and Sailor both cried hysterically when they parted ways. Sailor cried in his sleep when we stayed in a hotel that first night. I called the shelter to check up on him two days later, and they said he was depressed, curled up the corner of his run, refusing to eat. I decided to foster him.

Sailor never had an accident, if you told him to "stay," he would stay put for hours. He knew every command. I had never kept a foster before, but Sailor was just too good to be true. To this day, he is my best friend, and living proof that "perfect" dogs exist in rescue. I wouldn't trade him for the world!

Email us your RAD Rescue stories highlighting how you gave redemption to an adoptable dog to be featured on our social channels.  We love more than anything to share the love of the rescue community and advocates with the people who work so hard to defend voiceless animals.  Thanks Maree and Sailor!