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?


Kerry said...

It's fun to see pictures of Jake again, and to remember that your blog was called The Gold Puppy.

The bond between animals and people is deep and mysterious, and I love to hear about programs such as the one you've described. One of the 1st such programs in the world started up not far from where I live in OR. Talk about success: of a hundred youths who went through the program and were tracked in a study afterward, there was 0% recidivism.


Reya Mellicker said...

I have no doubt it was genuinely healing. I think there is something redemptive about the work people are doing with rescued animals these days. You are among those redeeming our really heinous animal karma. Thanks, Kerry!

Adrianne said...

I love those pics of the goldy puppy, especially the first one. As you know, my dots have totally changed my life, in the best way.

Adrianne said...

Gold puppy, not goldy puppy. And dogs, not dots. Sheesh. Sorry. Think the rain is getting to me.