My husband, despite four-legged creatures being attracted to him, nixed the idea. Too much trouble. Who was going to walk it all hours of the day and in all kinds of weather? And pick up after it? And, with the five of us out of the house for a significant part of the day, how was that fair to a dog? Also, we travelled a lot. What then? Place it in a kennel (an expensive proposition) or depend on kind-hearted friends (who would no longer be friends after two weeks of dog-sitting)?
So instead of dogs, a myriad of weird creatures inhabited our home. Once, as a parting gift, visiting relatives left behind a cage containing two gerbils for our sons. The givers insisted these little rodents were no trouble: clean, pleasant, quiet little pets…until one promptly disappeared into the recesses of the house. This incident caused a violent argument about whose fault it was. Then there were two chameleons (“one will just die of loneliness…we’ve got to have two”) and eventually, an iguana. Called “Drake”, short for Draconian, he became a legend in his own right.
Common sense (and psychologists) tell us that an adoring pet does wonders for the soul. And our mental health.
The instinct to turn to pets during this pandemic is supported by science, says a researcher studying how pets help people.
Researcher Megan Mueller says pets provide nonjudgmental emotional support, and studies show that “contact with pets help reduces stress and anxiety, particularly when you are experiencing a stressful situation.”
Studies have also shown how animals help people cope better with social isolation—that is, being physically separated from others—and with loneliness.
So, in that spirit, several members of our family have opted to follow that advice.
In the case of two sons, the pet idea started with the kids, then mom got into the picture, and finally dad agreed. (Fathers often link pets to a money drain.)
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This doesn’t count, of course, one of my bros whose family just picked up a Great Pyrenees pup while another beat the trend by recently welcoming a Border Collie pup.