Why Our Pets Are Just What We Need Right Now
A little over five years ago, we rescued a dog named Lopez. Lopez is a male, Chihuahua mix with the sweetest and bulgiest black eyes you have ever seen. We fell in love with him instantly. He is feisty and protective, but also cozy and amiable. He is the source of so much love and comfort in our family. When the kids need a friend, Lopez is there. When I need a warm buddy to snuggle on my lap, Lopez is there. And when my husband needs a friend during conference calls, Lopez doesn’t skip a beat. He is right there next to him. Never has Lopez been more important to us than now. As we continue to shelter in place for the unforeseeable future, he continues to provide the comfort needed to keep us healthy; that is, mentally healthy. We are all craving a human touch from someone other than those directly around us. He fills that empty hole when we need it most. He is the friend the kids miss talking with, the colleague we cannot see but know is there, and the loved one who is out of reach but in our hearts. I never would have thought that a pet could provide as much mental support as Lopez does.
Apparently, I am not alone. Doctors at Mayo Clinic have published studies citing the physiologic effects of petting an animal. They include increases in serotonin, dopamine, prolactin and oxytocin.[i] As time marches onward, I am happy and fortunate to have the love of those around me, and am sure that Lopez will continue provide much needed relief for the “ruff” days ahead.