A little over a year ago our beloved family dog, Avery, died. After about 6 months, my children wanted me to get a new pet and they launched a creative campaign of letters, and PowerPoints complete with links to dogs they liked at nearby shelters. They provided me with the following reasons why a dog was needed in our family and for them:
- It would bring a lot of joy to us and we would be outside more – according to Jennings in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, pets add an incentive to exercise and decrease anxiety. Since dogs need exercise and someone to take them on a walk, this can provide the owner the motivation to get outside and to be outside for longer periods of time.
- It would relieve stress in the family – Jennings also points out that for some, having pets can make them less likely to suffer from depression, and high blood pressure because of their calming effect. Just the presence of a dog can decrease anxiety in some situations.
- A pet would protect us at night and we would be safer at home – although this may not be true for all dogs, studies have found that pets can have a calming effect that makes some situations feel not so intimidating.
Eventually after a year of prodding, I did give in and we welcomed Hershey into our home almost a year after Avery passed away. Since then I have seen the benefits of having a dog and have even tried to convince my mother to reap the same benefits. For older adults, having a pet can help to make them less anxious, while also providing exercise and a companion. She’s not convinced yet, but if it worked on me, I’m sure my kids will convince her eventually.