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Every year as families gather around the table for Thanksgiving, we like to go around and say what we’re thankful for. Often times there are lots of thanks for family, love, friends and a chance to spend time together. Then, everyone smiles, digs deep into a bowl of hot mashed potatoes, or grabs way too many pieces of turkey, or indulges on pumpkin pie before eating the meal first. Meanwhile, your favorite feline basks in the sun by the window, or your dog stares up at you with those big puppy dog eyes hoping you’ll drop something down to his level.
This description probably paints a picture in everyone’s head a little differently, but there is one thing that I think we can all agree on: we are very thankful for our pets. They may not be the first thing we think to be thankful for while gathering around the table, but they are certainly deserving. So, this year why don’t you join us in saying why we’re all thankful for the pet in our life.
They Make Hard Days Easier
It’s been a long, hard day at work; you’ve had to sit in rush hour traffic for too long; you spilled your lunch down the front of your shirt– it’s safe to say you’re probably having a bad day. But when you open the door to enter your home, shaking his entire body in pure joy is your dog. No matter how hard the day is, that happiness that he shows just to see that you’re home is enough to overcome the worst of days.
Then on days where you’re sad or sick and you don’t feel like doing anything else except lying on the couch and watching television, your cat jumps up to sit on your lap. She purrs as you stroke her fur which can have a calming sensation to them, as well as you. As she nuzzles in closer to you and you can feel her warmth, your heart and health are immediately elevated.
They Make You Laugh
There’s a reason why there is such an affinity for spending hours of our lives watching hilarious cat videos online. It’s as if a comedian was encoded into their DNA. The way they are mesmerized by string or feathers or chase a flashlight in curiosity; you can’t help but laugh trying to wonder what is going on inside of their heads.
What about those times where you open up your dog’s food canister only to hear the pitter- patter of his feet scurrying across the floors? He comes screaming into the kitchen, but even after all of these years hasn’t figured out how to use his brakes on the wood floor and goes careening into the trashcan only to shake it off because, well, food. Or when you scratch that certain spot and his back leg goes crazy? Even the mellowest of dog parents can’t help but chuckle.
They Keep You On Your Toes
While this might not sound like something to be thankful for, it definitely is. For anyone that is or has been a pet parent, they know that it’s not always the easiest. Maybe it’s your cat knocking the flower pot off the shelf or your pup getting into the trash, no day is ever dull as a pet parent. There are always those days where your patience will be tried, but when you look at them 10 minutes later you don’t even remember what you were mad about. They have a way of getting you to develop a selective memory.
They give you a sense of purpose, and it’s one of the best jobs that you could ever have. The satisfaction you get when your pup raises his hand to shake on command after training, or seeing your cat go lay her claws into her scratching post rather than your curtains gives you great pride in your ability to raise them.
They Keep Us Healthier
Harvard researchers found that parenting a pet has been proven to help lower blood pressure, reduce stress and reduce the risk for heart-related health issues. This can be for a number of reasons including the ones listed above, but another sign of how dogs and cats can help improve your health is that they keep you moving.
This is especially true for parents of puppies and kittens. They have so much energy that you can get worn out just watching them, let alone chasing them all over the house or yard. In fact, as reported by The NY Times, studies have shown that people with dogs are more active than those without. Walking, playing and yes, cleaning up after their messes keeps you going and helps improve your overall health.
They Give Us Purpose
Some could say they keep us busy, but in reality caring for someone other than just yourself gives you great joy. Seeing your dog or cat show appreciation for you feeding them or petting them every day is enough to bring tears of joy to your eyes. They make getting out of bed each day easier.
All the work and responsibility that goes into pet parenting comes back tenfold in the joy they bring to our lives every day. The truth is, they may show us the most joy when we come home, but I think we can all agree that it is us that are truly thankful to see them when we walk through that door.
We are so thankful for all the warm cuddles on cold, wintery nights; the slobbery kisses; the calming purrs; the hours of entertainment; the stories for years to come; the warm hearts they give us; and more than anything, the unmatchable joy that they bring to our lives each and every day. So this holiday season, be sure to give thanks for your pup or kitty by letting them know just how much they mean to you, and just how much your life changed for the better when you brought them home.