Thoughts to Paws over…

Pets and kids.  I remember when I was five we moved to a new city, I had left my best friend Tracey behind, the two of us were inseparable, leaving her behind was very hard on me as I was a little different than most kids, I was extremely hyper active.  When we got to our new home I felt lost and very alone, the new kids I encountered at school didn’t get me at all, my kindergarten teacher wanted me to go on Ritalin and I felt very sad.   I remember what got my through the rough patches, was my friendship with our dog  Sargie.  I would dress him up in my old dresses and put him in my doll buggy and push him around the yard, and god bless that dog, he tolerated me.  Having a pet has so many health benefits for children.  Beyond the concept of helping kids to become more responsible, studies show that having an animal in a young person’s life can extend to their mental, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being.

I can remember I had a friend whose parents didn’t like her to come over to my house because we had a dog, as her parents believed that animals were dirty and would make you ill.  What is interesting,  studies have shown that the more contact children have with dogs and cats during their first year of life, the less likely they were to have respiratory illness or ear infections, or to require antibiotics.  I feel sad for a child that has never known the love of animal, having a pet gives children a source of comfort and helps them develop empathy.  I have a niece who is autistic, she has trouble interacting with people and finds it overwhelming in social settings, but watch her with her dog and it is a beautiful thing.  When she and her dog wander around the house together, their interactions are often trans-formative for her.  It has been found that some children with cognitive disabilities are  better able to interact with pets, which in turn helps them interact with people.  In several studies, simply the presence of a dog during occupational therapy resulted in greater use of language and social interaction. It has also been shown that having dogs in an educational setting reduces stress while promoting concentration, attention and motivation.  Children with different health issues, such as epilepsy, prophylaxis allergies,  sleep apnea , autism, blindness and the list goes on, receive huge benefits from the care of their service animal.

I am going to be honest, I have had allergies all my life and my parents were told I needed to get rid of my rabbit and that we shouldn’t have dog either.  I can tell you, that I would rather endure of life time of itchy skin than be pet-less.  The benefits I received from having our dogs as I grew up, far out weighed any of the small issues I might have had.  Having a dog helped ground me, provided me with a friend when I had a hard time socially and gave me a friend to talk to and share the hard times with.   The love of Sargie and Noel helped me thrive and be happy,  pets and children in my view are a very good thing,

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