Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Living with animals
Though I don't currently have a pet, I learned during fourteen years with my dog Jake that living with animals is good. Dogs, cats, birds, fish, turtles, horses, goats and chickens - we have lived with these and many other animals for unimaginable numbers of generations; it's part of being human.
Many studies have shown that hanging out with animals lowers blood pressure and raises morale. Animals help people with Alzheimers, heart disease, cancer, and depression.
One of the most healing animal/human programs I know about is one in which prison inmates are taught how to train seeing-eye dogs. There's no down side, think about it. Wow. I'm sure it helps all beings involved from the trainers to the inmates to the dogs and the people who are helped by the dogs once they've completed their training. Dogs are working animals; I'm sure they're proud to do the work. Someone told me the rescue dogs at Ground Zero after 9/11 became depressed at finding so few survivors. They are a noble species.
I find fascinating the recent trend in cities in which people are beginning to keep chickens and geese again. It was common practice in Washington DC up until the 1960s when it became illegal. The group "Hens on the Hill" is advocating for that law to be changed. I'm all for it. Chickens are total characters, I'm told. I wouldn't mind having a couple of hens, though - given where and how I live, I'm not sure how I could pull that one off.
Yes, animals shed. You have to deal with their poo, feed them, pay their vet bills, wash them and care for them. It's a lot of work, when done well. It is such great work, though, supremely satisfying and healing.
Today's pictures are of my dog Jake who died of old age a couple of years ago. Isn't he sweet?