February 5, 2014
Positives Of Pets: Promoting Pleasant People
People have pets for many reasons. For some, the pet is company. For others, a pet provides protection. Still, others have pets simply for hunting or working. Then there are those who have pets because they love them and want them as part of their family. Whatever the reason for having pets, studies show a multitude of benefits for having pets in our lives. In fact, redOrbit recently reported about one such study that found that when young people take care of pets, they tend to be more bonded to their communities and have stronger social relationships.
“Mueller surveyed over 500 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 26, who were mostly female, about their attitudes and relationship with animals. Those responses were compared to answers the same participants had given on an array of questions that assess positive youth development attributes such as competence, caring, self-esteem, connection, and character, in addition to feelings of depression, as part of a nationwide longitudinal study: the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development.”
The results showed that those young adults who were directly involved in looking after and taking care of their pets were more participative in their communities and with their relationships. Some such activities include:
- Offering service to their community
- Assisting friends or family
- Displaying leadership
These are great, but the study “also discovered that high levels of connection to an animal in late adolescence and young adulthood were positively linked with feeling in touch with other people, having empathy and feeling self-assured.” These three characteristics can only make a person more kind and loving as well as more willing to commit to his or her relationships, community, and responsibilities.
The benefits of having pets far outweigh the frustrations of them. Sure, pets make messes, chew stuff, and generally have their annoying moments, but each of these pet frustrations happen infrequently, rarely even. In between the moments of frustration come the moments of love, loyalty, and joy. Pets cuddle with us when we are ill or just feeling blue or even just because. Pets play with us, protect us, and follow us. Pets add much to our lives.
If giving a teenager or young adult the responsibility of a pet will help him or her to become better, more loving, more engaged adults, then we should absolutely support that. Plus, having a pet means planning, problem solving, and generally taking care of another being. All three of these actions can only contribute positive virtues to a growing human.
On top of all this, few activities feel better than watching a puppy finally learn a new trick or seeing a kitten come home for the first time because she knows her human is calling her. That special bond that fosters in pets is well worth all the training, time, and dedication. That special bond is one that will warm pet parents up at night, give them support when they are down, and help them to remember that always our pets love us even when we feel no one else does.
When I read Mr. Smith’s article today, I could not help but think of the benefits my own pets have provided me over the years. I learned the importance of taking care of others as a child when my parents gave me my first kitten. I also helped with the birthing process of puppies as well as the placement of those puppies. This helped teach me about birth as well as about people. As a teenager, I had a horse, which taught me about the importance of grooming, bathing, and proper feeding of such animals. And as an adult, I have had the luck to have two lifelong companions live with me until their last breaths—my aforementioned sweet kitty and most recently our Great Pyrenees. True, both instances broke my heart, and still I miss both pets, but these experiences also taught me about the nature of life and death.
Today, we are blessed with three cats and a puppy, all of which provide their own frustrations to us. However, each contributes much love and support and teaches us so much every day. I so enjoy mornings when I wake up to their calls of hunger. I love playing with them. I adore each of their unique personalities and neurosis. I love them.
I am involved in a couple pet rescue groups as well as other civic organizations. I contribute to my community in myriad ways. Did my pets have anything to do with that? According to this study, they absolutely contributed to my empathic, loving nature. And I’m totally happy about that.
Image Credit: Thinkstock