When we need them the most, doesn't it seem like your dog knows exactly what to do? You are feeling down and they just seem to know the button to push to perk you up? Maybe it is to act up, dance around or bark, getting you to focus on them. Maybe they suddenly and quietly snuggle their head in your lap, without your invitation.
Pets make a difference in our lives. They spur us into exercise. They can get us to slow down and relax. They make us feel protected and loved. Studies are being published showing the physical benefits that pets bring to our life. Scientific evidence supports what our human hearts already know.
Dr. Marty Becker, the popular veterinarian of 31 years who appears on the “Dr. Oz Show” and “Good Morning America,” was in San Francisco recently. He said in an interview that "there are about eight studies that prove people are healthier with dogs around". Our dog Cleo has us watching our diet, along with hers, she gets us away from the computer and out the door. Cleo's activity engages us, as much as we engage her. Our daily life involves her in every way.
Helping keep pets and families together. Here in San Francisco, we are familiar with, and proud of, the incredible work done by PAWS Pets Are Wonderful Support. They have actively cared for the needs of companion animals for low-income persons with disabling HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses, as well as senior citizens.
Launched in May 2009, it provides non-profit hospices with resources to keep patients and pets together for the life of the patient. Volunteers provide in-home pet care, pet transportation for routine veterinary care, grooming, pet food delivery and adoption of pets that become homeless upon the death of the patient.
Pet Peace of Mind Program. This program enables hospice patients to keep their pets at home with them throughout their end-of-life journey. Rev. Delana Taylor McNac is a hospice chaplain, former practicing veterinarian and creator of the Pet Peace of Mind Program.
There are inspirational, touching observations about the power of pets in the lives of hospice patients on the Pet Peace of Mind blog. With their permission, we have reprinted a story from their patient blog that appeared on July 15, 2010.
How Pets Make a Difference: Tucker and Mr. P
We often talk about the difference that a pet makes in the life of someone who is terminally ill. Pet Peace of Mind volunteer Mary Beth from Humboldt Hospice in California describes it beautifully in this story about Mr. P. and his dog Tucker. (She doesn't identify the patient by name in order to protect his privacy.)
"The hospice patient I'm currently visiting suffers deeply with loneliness. When his elderly dog died, it was an enormous loss to Mr. P. Within a short time, he had a new buddy named Tucker. The two quickly fell in love and trust. Tucker comforts the patient by simply being there. Tucker's jumping around from place to place enchants him and puts a long, wide smile on his face. When Tucker is ready to play, Mr. P. spins his electric wheelchair around to pick up the dog's favorite ball and throws it for him--again and again and again. He even seems to enjoy reprimanding Tucker when he barks at passing cars, pedestrians or any noise. He's proud of his "boy." Mr. P. is comforted by Tucker's constant attention and those big brown eyes that watch his every move.
The relationship with Tucker elevates his spirits and enriches his life. Tucker is someone who cares that Mr. P. is alive, someone to get out of bed for, someone to love and interact with all his waking hours and someone who accepts him as he is. What Tucker brings to this man not only enhances his own life, but also faciliates the work of caregivers and eases the concerns of family and friends. I truly believe that the last months of Mr. P's life are easier, more secure and happier because of Tucker's presence. I cannot even imagine him being able to stay in his home alone without his loyal companion."
We know by our own dog's example, pets do make a difference. Non-profits that recognize this and help keep pets and families together deserve our support. Consider volunteering or making a donation to one of these organizations that understand the difference pets make: