I would urge you, dear readers, on this last Sunday before the advent of the New Year, to consider adopting a dog or cat in 2009. I have often argued that the education a child can get from observing the pregnancy, birth process and care for the young of a pet is something that money cannot buy and textbooks cannot offer. But it goes further than that. Experts today call the special friendship between pets and people the human-animal bond.

They have come to recognise that, in addition to being fun and fulfilling, owning a dog may actually benefit a person’s health. When an affectionate greeting from your dog at the end of a hard day seems to lift your spirits and ease tensions, it’s not just your imagination. Your pet can be good for you, both mentally and physically.

Scientists have shown in several studies that people in the presence of pets simply behave in a more relaxed manner. They are happier, smile more readily, communicate better and may be more likely to get regular exercise – all of which leads to improved general health.

In one very interesting study of heart attack patients at the University of Maryland, it was revealed that those who owned pets were more likely to be living one year after the heart attack than those who did not. The researchers also found that the simple act of petting a cat or dog consistently lowered a heart patient’s blood pressure.

And then there are the considerations offered by US Senator George West in 1870 when he wrote in a Tribute to a dog:
“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is a dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wound and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey thru the heavens.”
Please accept my best wishes for 2009.

Next week we will return to the ‘Discussion of the eye.’
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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