The Therapeutic Power of Pets

Aug 16, 2021 Ruche J Chada

Have you ever had the experience of feeling depressed or lonely, like no one to talk to, like there is no one around and you just sink into a state of sadness or anxiety which you dread will grip you? Does such a feeling overwhelm you at times? I have been a victim of such feelings and unpleasant emotions, since the last 1 year, that millions of us experience as a part of being human. And the pandemic further exacerbated it. 2020 saw the world shrink ever smaller, yet get more connected, crowded and ironically increasingly lonely for many.

However, I was quick to identify my antidote for loneliness. It was my pet, Hachiko’s warm touch, bewildered look and shrill cry. In the absence of human companionship, adopting Haichiko had provided me with an important source of social support, and helped me to fend off these feelings of loneliness and isolation. I even feel like there’s a piece of my heart missing when Haichiko goes for his 1 hour long strolls by himself. It’s like that, in a way. There is a Full-blown connection, he is so focused and listening to every word I utter, we have fun together and it is a lot like a partnership. He has had a profound effect on me and that has healed me. He is a catalyst. And this is real. 

My German Shepherd, Jumbo, was however more human than most humans. He could read my emotions and would actually lick my tears when I would cry. My mother, suffered from Chorea (Chorea is a movement disorder that causes involuntary, irregular, unpredictable muscle movements), but when in and around him she felt healed and happy. The night before he died, he gave a very long gaze as if he knew he was going far away us. 




According to a study/research published by White Wolf Pack (2020), Science has been revealing the ways that the physiology of human psychology can be found across species: the common neuronal structures and attendant nerve wirings that we share in varying measures.  Animal therapy makes us aware of this cross-species interconnectivity at the purest, subconscious level. It has been established that the tactile element alone in animal therapy releases endorphins, the so-called feel-good hormones that counteract the trauma hormones of adrenaline and cortisol.

According to a study published by Psychology Today (2019) “Whether they have a physical handicap or an emotional handicap or a mental handicap, when you’re around animals,” a researcher says, “the energy is so powerful that it tunes the body up. Animal therapy is increasingly being sought to heal our psychic and social woes. Researchers from Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine present evidence that service dogs ameliorate several aspects of health and well-being in people with chronic conditions or physical disabilities. The research further elaborates  that beyond providing concrete assistance (e.g., pulling the wheelchair, helping lead the blind in busy streets), service dogs also help improve psychological and social health of those with PTSDautism, etc.

Hence, please go ahead and adopt pets. They contribute immensely to one's well being. Although most therapy pets are dogs, other species such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses are good candidates to be adopted as pets since they are people friendly and have a good temperament. But the only thing that one should keep in mind is that these lovable pets should be well trained for the happiness of both the pet and the pet parent. 



Ruche Chadha is an animal rights activist and she believes in justice for all animals. She strongly believes that animals deserve to live happy, cruelty-free lives and strongly condones harsh animal training methods, animal testing and other abuses suffered by many the animals. 


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Stray Relief and Animal Welfare (STRAW) India is a registered nonprofit /non-government organization and its focus is summed up in its motto, Animal Welfare through Education. It promotes empathy and compassion for all living beings and care for the environment by educating young people through its humane education programs and workshops.


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