Tag Archives: human-animal bond

12 Top articles for pet lovers of 2015

If you’re an animal lover—civilian or professional—you know the special relationship we have with our fellow creatures makes our lives, and often theirs, better. Your encounters may be with a loved pet, service dog, store mascot, farm flock, local wildlife, or therapy animal.

All of these can lower your blood pressure and raise your happiness. In fact, the effect is so powerful, scientists study it as a safe way to prevent illness and heal the heart. Well-done studies don’t always show a benefit, but many do.

To celebrate the human-animal bond, here are 12 of my favorite articles from 2015. Some are rigorous research findings. Others tell the story of one kind of animal helping another. All of them will make you smile.

Enjoy. And happy 2016.Colt

  1. Tiny stray dog saves dying man. Stray dog and dying man save each other. When this little dog chose their car and jumped in, Bill’s wife was bringing him home from surgery for advanced cancer. Read how they gave each other the strength to go on. https://buff.ly/1AMC47A
  2. Beneficial effects of animal-assisted visits on quality of life during multimodal radiation-chemotherapy regimens. B. Fleishman, P. Homel, M.R. Chen, V. Rosenwald, V.Abolencia, J. Gerber, and S. Nadesan. Animal assisted visits improved social and emotional wellbeing in patients with head and neck cancer, even as their physical health declined. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Bene%C2%80cial+effects+of+animal-assisted+visits+on+quality+of+life+during+multimodal+radiation-chemotherapy+regimens+Stewart+B+Fleishman+et+al
  3. Kitty compassion: Stray cat saves homeless baby’s life. Samantha Laine. (Article & video) Stray tabby finds abandoned Russian baby in dead of winter, keeps her warm and meows till someone comes. https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/2015/0117/Kitty-compassion-Stray-cat-saves-homeless-baby-s-life-video
  4. Pet Talk: Human-animal bond a lifeline to those living on the fringes. Monique Balas. Pets keep homeless and mentally ill people grounded, give them a reason to get help. https://www.oregonlive.com/pets/index.ssf/2015/01/pet_talk_human-animal_bond_a_l.html
  5. The girl who gets gifts from birds. Katy Sewall. Little girl began feeding the neighborhood crows. Now they bring her presents. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026
  6. Horses Helped This Vet With PTSD After No One Else Could. Tim Hayes. Iraqi veteran suffers severe PTSD, tries everything from exercise to diets to 5-mile runs, gets nowhere till she meets a horse on the road. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-hayes/horses-for-heroes-healing_1_b_7425962.html
  7. Informing Children in a Therapeutic School about the End of Life for the Animals in its Animal-Assisted Education and Therapy Programs; How One Organization Handles this Difficult Process. Miyako Kinoshita. Children at residential treatment and special education facility, who have already lost a lot, learn to handle loss of favorite animals. https://www.latham.org/Issues/LL_15_SP.pdf#page=14
  8. Ancient bobcat buried like a human being. David Grimm. Rare 2000-year-old burial contains bobcat buried with necklace of bear teeth & shells in human burial mound. The 1-of-a-kind discovery “suggests this animal had a very special place in the life of these people.” https://buff.ly/1NFetcm
  9. ABC News. (Video).Thoroughbred racehorses get a second career with men who need a second chance. Program in New York saves horses and gives prisoners a way to contribute to society.  https://www.facebook.com/abcnews/videos/10153485692358812/
  10. Meet the therapy dogs who comforted during theater trial. (Video). Carefully trained theapy dogs provided support during trial to families impacted by the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting. https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2015/08/13/31528311/
  11. Psychological stress affects nearly 1 in 10 veterinarians. Phyllis DeGioia. New study shows many veterinarians suffer severe stress, and fear getting help will hurt their career. Happily peer and professional support is growing. https://buff.ly/1MpwHiN
  12. Pet Dogs and Children’s Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention? A. M. Gadomski, M. B. Scribani, N. Krups, P. Jenkins, Z.  Nagykaldi, & A. L. Olson. Dogs protect regular kids from anxiety, says major study from Centers for Disease Control. Children with dogs watched as much screen and had the same BMI scores as those without dogs, but had less fear of being alone or meeting people. https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/15_0204.htm

Which human-animal bond stories made you smile this year? Drop Dr. Susan a note here at PetDecisions.com and tell her your favorites and what you’d like to see in 2016.



21 ways pets help you beat the holiday blues

Holidays got you down?

Traditions can be a source of joy, but not for everyone all the time. It’s painful to feel sad when everyone else seems to be so happy. Maybe you lost a loved one or ended a relationship this year. Trimming the tree or lighting candles alone reminds you that life is forever changed.

Perhaps your family saves their nastiest barbs for what’s supposed to be a time of love and good will. Possibly Auld Lang Syne makes you tearful instead of giddy. You don’t have to be clinically depressed to feel out of step with the calendar’s forced cheer.

Whatever saps your spirit, pets can help. Here’s how:


  1. Get you to exercise.

Physical activity is a proven mood lifter. Walk the dogs or drag a cat toy around for her majesty. Walking dogs DSCN6249Taking care of yourself includes the body your feelings live in.

  1. Be your boon companion.

When your friends and family let you down, your four-legged family members keep you company without the drama. They’re happy to join your adventures or cuddle up while you watch trashy movies. If the house is too quiet, a chatty parrot or purring cat gives you someone to talk to. And you’ll get all the best lines.

3. Shift your focus to someone else.

Do fun, active things with your pets or for your neighbor’s pet. It will take your mind off your own problems, and move it to something with more potential.

  1. Offer you friendly physical contact.

People need hugs. Touch strengthens the immune system, and pets provide an opportunity to reap those benefits.  A caress, a nuzzle, and you’ll remember that someone loves you.

  1. Take a nap with you

Losing sleep can make you grumpy and feeds depression. Treating sleep problems so you get enough sleep will improve your state of mind. If you are one of those people who sleeps better with a warm body next to you, curl up with your pet.

  1. Spark your creative juices.

Making art, crafting, and writing satisfy your soul.  They help you feel productive instead of paralyzed.

Sketch the animals around you. Write your faraway mom a short note about how much your guinea pig loves his new toy. Bake dog treats. Crochet a cat toy. Create, and you’ll come out of the holidays with something to show for it.

  1. Get you to learn something.

It’s more fun to study something you love. Take a pet first aid course. Use your free time to prepare your dog for agility events. What you learn can keep your pet healthy and give you a new hobby, friends included.

  1. Inspire a visit to lonely animal lovers

Many people who love animals can’t have one of their own. Why not bring yours for a visit? Or invite them over to see your tropical fish? If your pet is sociable, consider training as an animal assisted therapy team.

  1. Invite you outdoors

The evidence is strong: Nature is good for us. Let your dog get you out of the house and into the great outdoors. Join a birdwatching group. Take a trail ride through the forest or down the beach. Research suggests that the more experiences you have, the happier you will be.

10. Provide an excuse to leave unpleasant events.

Trapped at a loud holiday party with people you hardly know? Family Feud starting at Uncle Harry’s annual get-together? Announce that your dog has to be walked every three hours and your cat gets cranky without her kibble. Excuse yourself and leave.

11. Lick your tears away

Going through a rough patch? Find that no one wants to hear how hard the holidays are for you? Your pet will not only listen but lick away your tears.

12. Get you into the here-and-now

When we are in the grip of sadness or fear, we grieve old injuries or worry about things that may never happen. Cats and dogs live right now. Like the best meditation teachers, pets remind us to stay in the present moment.

13.. Distract you.

Watching animals do their thing takes your mind off whatever ails you. In fact, animals make such good distractors, that people who hang out with pets after surgery need less pain medication. Let it work for you.

14.  Be your dance partner.

If your pet is willing to be picked up, put on your favorite music and waltz. Kitty not a fan of leaving the floor? Dance around your living room with moves inspired by different birds. Or if your dog loves to gambol, sign up for lessons in canine freestyle (dance steps with your dog!).  Blue ribbons and Internet fame, here you come.

15. Prompt you to try something new.

The old traditions may feel wrong this year. Make some new ones.  Pop Fido in the car and drive somewhere you’ve never been before.  Add your own additions to the potato latkes, cut your homemade dog treats with a candle-shaped cutter, and introduce your neighbors to Hanukkah. Head outside Rover and howl at the full moon.

16. Persuade you to talk to fellow pet lovers, even ones you don’t know.

Pets are great ice breakers. Animal lovers are friendly group, eager to talk about their furred, finned, or scaly family members. Say hi at the dog park. See if your pet supply store has special events. Start an animal-oriented book club.

17. Respond to a pet blog.

The web is full of sites, photos, and blogs about pets. Your fellow animal lovers are sharing hearts and experience for your enjoyment. They’d love to hear what you think. Take a moment to repin a photo or comment on an article. Like this one.

18.  Excite you to throw a pet-friendly party

How much fun would you have at a party where your pet was welcome? Right. Why not organize one yourself? Mulled cider and Scotty-shaped cookies. Or ice skating at the park. Your friends will thank you for it.

19. Inspire you to volunteer at shelter

You know how good you feel when you do something for someone else? Think how much your local animal rescue group could use an extra pair of hands. Or your fundraising efforts. Or your word smithing for their newsletter. Even a small act of kindness lifts your spirit and may help you live longer.

20. Excuse you from Facebook and other places where people seem happier than they really are.

Most people put the best version of themselves on display. For lots of reasons you don’t want the world to know you’ve been laid off or spent half your vacation in your room with traveler’s tummy. If seeing your friends’ happy updates makes you jealous or feel like a failure, pets are your way out. And truthfully, wouldn’t you rather make new memories with them than cozy up to a computer?

21. Make you laugh

Let’s face it. Animals are hilarious. They vault into the air for the ball you threw. They use the sounds you taught them to wolf whistle at the dog. They stalk across your floor to pounce on imaginary prey. They make you laugh. And laughter is the best antidote to holiday blues.

Tell us what you think of these tips. Which ones will you try? What’s your favorite way to beat the blues?

Susan P. Cohen, DSW