Furry friends: the benefits of pets in lockdown

Around three years ago I became the owner of a dog; or rather my dog Clementine became the owner of me.

Since then I have learned a pet can completely change your life.

 

I cannot put in to words the love we have for one another, nor can my dog… but with one look I know what he is thinking, or at least I pretend to anyway! During these last few weeks, I feel (and again I am only interpreting my dog’s thoughts here) we have grown even closer. Those early mornings of whimpering for a wee and walks have really helped to give my days structure.

On days where I’ve felt like I can’t be bothered, watching him leap to attention when he sees his lead or hears the distinct sound of his collar rattling is a great motivator and reminds me to be more ‘dog like’ and try to take pleasure in the here and now. No matter what, tail wagging and eyes wide with excitement, he is eager to see and sniff beyond the garden fences.

Not only can pets help us keep on doing, they can be a great comfort and can help to reduce feelings of isolation. Many articles suggest that animals can help with our mental health and loneliness. This one in particular articulates the unconditional love pets offer, being the ultimate ambassadors for equal opportunities, not caring what star sign you are or how many followers you have on Instagram.

Interestingly, Ian Ramsey, professor of small animal medicine at the University of Glasgow, has suggested that dogs are actually benefitting in their role as man’s best friend during the pandemic, as being pack animals, they prefer to be around people rather than enduring solitude.

Please don’t think I am advocating that everyone should rush out and get a pet. As fantastic as they are, it’s important to remember that they come with great responsibility.  Before offering a pet a home you should be certain that you can give them what they need, both now and in the future (remember a pet is for life, not just the pandemic).

So whether you are locked up with a cat, a budgie, a rabbit, some fish or any other domesticated creature, I am sure you can agree that the loyalty of your pet knows no limits and there is nothing quite like the love you have for your furry (or not so furry) best friend.

 

Rachael Ward

Occupational Therapist and Eternal day dreamer

Email: rachael.ward15@nhs.net