New Year’s Resolutions

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According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology about half of American’s make New Year’s resolutions. However, it seems few keep these resolutions, or we would be in better shape and happier.

Perhaps instead of calling them “resolutions,” which means to change or transform, we could call them “intentions,” which means to have a plan or purpose. For instance, “I intend to look and feel my best”, instead of “I will lose 10 pounds in a month” has a more positive approach.

Why not make an intention to get a pet? I’m sure a lot of you are saying, “The last thing I need in my life right now is a pet.” Are you too busy? Too busy for what – more love in your life? Yes, companion animals are a responsibility, but what’s wrong with a little responsibility?

If you choose a dog, you will get more kisses than you ever imagined. You will never be lonely. You will always have someone to talk to, dogs are great listeners. Some on the best conversations I have are with Koby and K.C. my German shepherds, and they don’t interrupt. Well, most times they don’t, but they are talkers and I’m trying real hard to speak “dogese”.

For the feline fanciers, watching the silly antics of playful kittens can be entertaining and make you laugh. Just listening to your cat’s purring can release all the stress of the day. For tense muscles, a kitty wrapped around your neck can be the purrfect heating pad.

People with debilitating medical issues credit their companion animal with helping them to adopt a healthier life-style and attitude. Physicians agree, the family pet can motivate a patient to give their best effort in dealing with a serious illness.

About 70 percent of American households have pets, but we are just tapping into the power they posses to heal emotionally, physically and mentally. There is evidence that pets can sniff out cancers undetectable to doctors, and that some pets can sense when their guardian is about to have a heart attack, seizure or panic attack.

Hyperactive children were calmer after being paired with big, happy-go-lucky dogs that provided a positive outlet for their high energy. Research shows that companion animals are especially beneficial to seniors. This group is more susceptible to being depressed and lonely. Pets provide comfort as well as protection against loneliness and depression.

Companion animals may benefit their guardian’s body chemicals. In an ongoing study, preliminary results showed participants’ levels of the body’s good chemicals, such as oxytocin, believed to cause feeling of happiness, and prolactin, associated with feelings of attachment were elevated after the subjects interacted with their companion dogs.

Scientifically, there is biological basis for what’s been felt intuitively. People can become healthier by interacting positively and sharing their lives with their pets. Pets are also great social lubricants, they attract people to you. They help you engage in the present and not spend time dwelling on past mistakes or hurts.

Pets provide powerful therapy for good-health and happiness. Physicians are now recommending “pet prescriptions” to some patients who live alone and are need of companionship. The arrival of these dogs, cats or other pets may contribute to fewer physician visits and the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol level in some people.

So, spend more time looking, listening, touching and talking to your pet each day to help release feel-good, nurturing natural biochemicals in yourself. You may discover that you will let go of stress, breathe more deeply and laugh more.

Tap into the healing power of fur, fins and feathers. We have some wonderful pets waiting at the Animal Care Center that may be just what the doctor ordered. Start the year off right, with some easy ways to stay in shape and be happy.

Jacqui Randall

Volunteer Coordinater

Humane Society of Sedona