Sunday we celebrated the annual Pet’s Memorial Service in my church. One inspiration for this celebration comes from ancient stone sculptures of the reclining Buddha, who is gravely ill and surrounded by people and animals that have come to pay their respects. In the service we offer incense to the memories of pets that are no longer with us and the ministers give talks related to this topic.
This year, the minister asked the children to share something they had learned from their pets or how they benefited from having a pet. The kids had trouble thinking of answers, but the topic piqued my curiosity, so I decided to do a little research. I loved what I read on WebMD of the twenty-seven ways pets benefit our health. Here are a few of my favorites:
1) Spending 15 to 20 minutes with a dog or cat or watching fish swim (think hospital waiting rooms) leads to physical changes that improve our moods by lowering a hormone associated with stress.
2) “Pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiac disease.”
3) Cat owners have fewer strokes than those without cats, and many dogs are able to alert their diabetic owners to serious drops in blood sugar levels; and
4) Children who grow up with pets and/or farm animals are “less likely to develop allergies” and have higher levels of a “chemical associated with greater immunity, which will help keep them healthy as they age.”
I will try to remember these things the next time Oscar Wild throws up on the rug, wakes us up at two am for a snack or scratches the kitchen cabinet where we store his food.
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