Brandon color lib

A purposeful companion

Mar 6 • Brandon Jaces, Opinion • 2080

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Going home for break means I get to see my family, and part of that family is a large, fluffy, tail-wagging friend — Winston Milo.
The amount of jumps, yelps and attention that can only be interpreted as excitement that all of us receive from this dog simply by walking through the door is enough to make you feel like a celebrity. To me, Winston lives a pretty good life, and he might not know it, but he provides my family and me with a lot of joy in our lives.
If it were up to me, everyone would have a pet if they could and would be able to take care of it.
Besides companionship, pets are a gift to humans for other various reasons. According to an article on Animal Planet’s website — an educationally-based television show centered on animals, wild and domestic — having a pet provides socialization, exercise and can give a person a sense of purpose.
In an increasingly digital world where social media and texting have become new ways of interacting, having a pet can help break the barriers of cellphone to cellphone communication.
For one thing, pets are great ice breakers. For example, you are walking your dog at the park and next thing you know you are talking with someone because they wanted to pet your dog.
While you’re busy walking your dog at the park you are tackling another benefit of having a pet such as a dog — exercise. Animal Planet cited five activities you can do with your pet — running, biking, hiking, yoga and agility training.
Running, biking and hiking are self-explanatory when it comes to involving your furry friend. However, yoga and agility training might not be as obvious.
Yoga with your dog — or “doga” as it has been dubbed — has become popular and is exactly what it implies: yoga with your dog. This is a fresh, fun twist on a long-standing form of exercise. If you don’t have a dog you can try goat yoga. Visit goatyoga.com to find out more.
The National Institutes of Health even weighs in on the subject of pets after testing more than 2,000 adults and finding out that dog owners responsible for walking their pets are less likely to be obese than those who have someone else walk their pup.
According to the founder of goat yoga, she created the practice while going through a divorce and battling an autoimmune disease at the same time. One of the only things that made her feel better was her goats, and that’s how goat therapy and goat yoga began. So as you can see, animal therapy isn’t limited to canines and felines; other animals can be used for therapy as well.
Animals can also give a person a sense of purpose, which Animal Planet cites as being crucial for those who are “down in the dumps.”
From caring for an animal to the companionship received by owning one, a person doesn’t feel as alone and is given purpose through taking care of something else.
According to the Animal Planet article, this is common among the sick and elderly who could be receiving Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Pet-Facilitated Therapy (PFT). Hospitals and nursing homes frequently use animals for therapy with people as well. Even Gannon University offers periodic dog therapy sessions at the Recreation and Wellness Center.
It’s crazy what animals can do for people, from being a family companion, to servicing the handicapped and comforting a veteran suffering from PTSD. Sometimes these cute animals’ abilities are overlooked, so remember to take a minute to appreciate what an animal can do for you and what you can do for it.

BRANDON JACES
jaces001@knights.gannon.edu

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