Truth be told, I do not believe there is any love greater than the love a pet has for their owner. I experience this great, big love on a daily basis with my two rescue pups (and best buds) Wednesday and Brody. These two can turn a bad day upside down and offer any kind of support I need at any time. Brody is new to the family and is still learning her place but there is something special about her that I think exists in so many discarded dogs and cats that are left to wait in shelters.
Wednesday, of course, is my number one, my everything. She was a rescue from Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea and she represents everything good I remember from my time spent in Korea with my husband. She is a one-of-a-kind girl with personality for days. She can read me like a book and I her. Since moving to Georgia, I have felt as though Wednesday needed a buddy, someone to let her know she would be okay in the house all alone during the day. However, I was not sure if she, or we, were ready. So I went to volunteer at the local shelter with zero intentions (alright, almost zero intentions) of adopting. But as the orientation started, I saw through a glass wall a face I can only refer to as familiar. Brody (then called Mary Kate; my name being Kate Mary we can see why this needed to be changed) has a face that cannot be ignored. Her sweet dark hazel eyes glow with love. I turned to my friend and said, “Wow, look at her, I wish I could adopt her now, but there is still too much going on [with the move].” She said, “Is she ‘the one’?”
It was like in a romance movie when time stands still and jazz music plays while the two star-crossed lovers run toward each other, only we were on opposite sides of the glass, so that would have been painful. I came home and immediately made my case to Chris, who to my surprise said, “Let’s go look at her tomorrow,” and we did.
When Brody and I arrived home from the shelter, I was half-expecting Wednesday to put on an attitude and prance about the house like a growling, spoiled, yuppie brat; this is exactly how she acts when she is unhappy. But to my surprise, she acted excited. She had met Brody at a meet-and-greet the night before but I never thought she would remember her. It was as though Wednesday was saying “Hey, you! Welcome to our house! It’s crazy here.” She was bouncing and wagging her tiny stub of a tail like mad. After an hour or so of playing (actually running laps around the living room) the girls crashed on the couch. Brody was right at home, familiar little girl that she is. By night, I was concerned that Brody would cause an uproar by trying to enter Wednesday’s nighttime territory, but after a few low growls she learned that her place is up on the pillows while Wednesday sleeps under the covers. She knows her limits and follows them to a tee. Brody is unbelievably eager to please and we are so grateful for this.
Brody and Wednesday were meant to be sisters. Brody being twice Wednesday’s petite size does not matter one bit in their eyes. To them, they are the same, on equal ground. We could learn a thing or two from these chicks. They play hard and then sleep harder. They are just as happy when I arrive home from being out all day as they are when I come back from the mailbox. I think there is a special understanding among dogs who have been in a shelter or on the street: they will never forget where they came from but they do not let the sadness of their past wear them down. They also know how to bond, hard and fast to their people.
As I am well aware, spending time with animals can have incredible effects on humans physically, emotionally and mentally. Here are some of the ways that you can benefit from spending time with your fur babies or by sharing your pets’ time with others:
-In a study by the American Heart Association, several stockbrokers were given two separate stress tests, one without a pet and one six months later with a pet present, with whom they had built a 6-month long relationship. In the first test, the test subjects’ blood pressure was recorded as ‘high’ and during the second set of tests it was recorded as half as high as the first test. Scientists credited these results to the presence of the pets and their ability on the health and mental stress state of the subjects. Meaning: owning and spending time with your pets can help lower your blood pressure.
-In the American Journal of Cardiology, a study was completed with 400 post-heart attack patients. Those who had a pet with whom they spent time after being released from the hospital had a much higher survival rate than those who did not have a pet one year later. I like those odds.
-Therapy dogs and cats have been used in assistance with bed-ridden and mobile patients alike in hospitals for years and are starting to receive the recognition they deserve. Therapy pets are credited with lowering blood pressure, increasing endorphins and decreasing anxiety in hospitals and homes worldwide. Organizations like the American Kennel Club assist in the therapy pet certification process.
-Dogs are also now being used to help Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder patients, especially those returning from war. These pets help reduce the anxieties our warriors feel after returning from the battlefield and aid in their transition back into society.
We currently have a magnet in the shape of a paw print on our Jeep that simply states “Who rescued who?” This is a question for the ages. Did we save them from the shelters or in doing that did these little girls rescue us by showing us all that is good in the world and that there is always something to wag your tail about? It’s both, but the weightier rescuing is in the hands (paws) of all rescue dogs and cats around the world: they are willing to give us a lifetime of happiness and love, if only for receiving in return some of our time playing with and loving them each day.
Related: Luna – A Story of a Rescue Kitten
Also by Kate: Freedom Friday Sweet Christmas Sugar Cookies
New Year’s Resolution: Becoming a Better Advocate
Photo: Kate Coffey