I was down for the count for a few days – scratchy throat, sinus congestion, and cough. Although I was ill, I found great comfort – in my pets.
Our newly-adopted dog, Jeremiah, stayed by my side as I napped or simply sat in the couch recliner. Mary also remained nearby, and my long-haired tuxedo cat, Murphy, lay on the arm of the couch several times. The comfort I received from their nearness and from petting them is indescribable. Many of you can relate to that. Our pets can be our therapy, no matter if we’re suffering from a physical illness or from emotional turmoil.
Therapy animals provide great comfort to people. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, even horses and small ponies provide respite for humans in hospitals, hospice, or other settings. Through specific training, these animals are welcomed in more situations and facilities than ever before, as studies show interacting with animals de-stresses people and brings them joy.
Lutheran Church Charities takes these studies seriously, and the organization provides Comfort Dogs to help people impacted by natural or man-made crises. Just this week, some of those golden retrievers were dispatched to Las Vegas to help the city’s residents and visitors after Sunday night’s mass shooting. The LCC Comfort Dogs have also provided therapy for people impacted by other shootings as well as tornadoes and other natural disasters.
As I sat close with my pets this week, I was reminded how important we are to them, and I know how important they are to me. My animals give me love, acceptance, devotion, and comfort in my time of need, and many animals do the same for strangers.
Whether it’s your own pet interacting with you, therapy pets visiting hospital patients, or LCC’s golden retrievers dispatched to hurting communities, animals bring comfort to humans – they are considered by many as angels with paws. I know I am thankful for the comfort of pets, and I imagine many others are too.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.