I never thought much about the benefits of having a pet until my little Chihuahua, Chica, died. She was the most wonderful little dog. She used to pull books off the shelf for me when I had something on my mind. Her selections were surprisingly relevant, although I wasn’t too keen on the bite marks. She kept me company, gave me plenty of exercise and gave me someone to talk to when my family wasn’t around.
Pets touch us in ways that no person can. We go through dog and cat phases when we are younger, but, there are many reasons to consider getting a pet in your 60s too.
Animals calm you, focus you and give you something to be responsible for. They keep you busy, active and energized. They can improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being… and they may just help you to find the man of your dreams (no, really!)
Here a few of the surprising benefits of having a pet at this stage in your life.
Pets exhibit unconditional love. They don’t mind how rich or beautiful you are. They measure your love in hugs, walks, fun and food. Pets are dependent on us for their comfort and pleasure. In return, they listen non-judgmentally as we talk about the things that are on our minds and lick our tears away in moments of sadness and fear.
Since pets can’t speak, you might think that they would have trouble communicating. Nothing could be further from the truth! Pets have a miraculous ability to understand our feelings. They give simple answers to complex problems. They say things like “I can see you’re upset. Give me a treat. Oh, and, while you are at it, grab some chocolate for yourself!” or “That sounds awful! Let’s get out into the sunshine and throw a ball around.” Brilliant.
Pets will never criticize your decisions or challenge your point of view.
They provide true companionship in a harsh world and their simple presence can help to reduce our sense of loneliness and isolation.
Pets, especially dogs, are great dating coaches and can help you to improve your social skills. First, they introduce you to new people. Pet owners are generally outgoing and friendly and your dog will connect you with many of them, whether you like it or not.
Pets also connect people emotionally. Dogs tend to reflect the personalities of their owners, so, they give us plenty to talk about at a first encounter. Beagle lovers have stories to tell about squirrel chases. Lab owners have plenty of time to chat while their dogs retrieve balls. Chihuahua owners can compare notes for where to find fashionable dog outfits. Before you know it, you, and your dog, will have plenty of new friends.
If dating is still something that you are interested in, your dog can help you to meet fun men. If nothing else, your dog will encourage you to get out of the house to visit training classes, dog parks and outdoor cafes – all places that you can meet interesting people.
Dogs love to run and they “encourage” their owners to do the same. Dogs demand physical exercise and they won’t leave you alone until you get your coat on and join them. Incidentally, their bark is about the same decibel as a Boot Camp trainer. Fortunately for them, dogs are able to combine their discipline for all things outdoors with a cuteness that makes it hard for us to say no.
All that exercise is great for your health. According to this article, pet owners can benefit from decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. So, if you want to reduce your chances of having a heart attack, while enjoying the outdoors, a new pet may be just the ticket. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more sedate, why not look into “Doga” (doggie yoga).
If you are looking for a more independent companion that doesn’t need walks in the rain and knows how to keep itself clean, consider a cat.
Cats can be left alone for hours while you go to work. All they ask is that you leave them some water and a bowl of crunchy food. They don’t mind if you take a few hours to go shopping or visit with friends. You can even leave a cat at home overnight if you have a short trip planned.
Just because cats are independent doesn’t mean that they aren’t filled with love. They just show their affection on their own terms. Cats are great cuddlers and their purr is surprisingly soothing. Sure, they may get stuck in your knitting or tread on your laptop at exactly the wrong time, but, that’s just part of their wonderful quirky personality.
Pets can be amazing companions, but if you like to travel, or your work keeps you away from home, you might be better off babysitting a friend’s dog or cat. There are also plenty of opportunities to help out at a local kennel. No matter how you do it, adding an animal to your life will bring you numerous benefits. Within no time, you will feel calmer, healthier and more connected to the world around you.
Do you have a pet? What benefits have you found from having a dog or cat in your life? Do you have any funny pet stories to share? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.