A shout-out to rescue…a psych and her pets

I’ve had plenty of opportunities since my crushing car accident to think about what my friends mean to me. The care and support I received then, and continue to experience, made all the difference in my recovery.  But my furry canine friends have something to offer in companionship and support every day, and we cherish one another!

Both my 5 year-old Boxer and 1 ½ year old Wheaten Terrier are rescues. A moment of praise for the rescue groups!  They do a wonderful service by collecting dogs of the same breed, stabilizing them with good foster families and giving excellent care while permanent families find them–thank goodness for the Internet.

Perhaps if I had not chosen to be a “people therapist” I might have gone the career path of someone like Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer.” But with both human and animal interests at heart, I do like to remind everyone that pets have a tremendous influence on a person’s well-being. I doubt I need to quote the studies that reveal simply stroking a beloved pet, or any animal, lowers blood pressure, improves the heart rate and stabilizes breathing. Just walking, grooming, or throwing the ball with your cat or dog will lift your spirits nearly as well as a standard antidepressant. I do wonder why we don’t have more animals named Prozac or Zyban!

To be involved in another being’s life is a special relationship that goes way beyond supplying basic needs of food, water and shelter. The need for a gentle touch, soft words, and good care with a smile that comes from the inside out begins to heal the confusion that a rescued animal feels as they move through difficult, often terrifying adjustments to a strange new place. Then building trust with a rescue animal takes time and patience, but is oh so rewarding! But who is the true rescuer, I often ask myself.  No matter what is going on in my life, my soft, loving and furry companions are there to share with me and we all benefit from that mutual support.

In my counseling profession I often have occasion to share with others the value of leaning into the shelter of trusted companionship and I personally know that through many life transitions it’s our pets that gladly meet us at the end of a hard day.  I’ll be posting more stories about my beloved dogs. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them as I share how important they have been in keeping me company through many significant life events— joyful occasions as well as protracted stressful periods. Why not share with me stories of your relationship with your trusted pets? What has connected you in mutual support? I’d love to hear from you.

When those eager greeters meet you at the door, bounding forward with enthusiasm and playful joy, do you wonder like I do, did I rescue them, or do they rescue me? Does it really matter? Not one bit!