Bonds and Benefits of Having Pets in the Home

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I realized something that I was so very thankful for. Something I didn't really realize I was overly thankful for. That thing is the bond between Johanna and Cookie. I know they love each other but this past week of Holiday chaos made me realize the bond they share.

We spent Thanksgiving with family and friends where there were lots of people and lots of stimulation for the both of them. Cookie's anxiety can really get the best of her to the point where she is only focused on one thing. Typically that thing is being outside, food or me. This year, she was also very focused on Johanna. There were several occasions where I would look at Cookie just to see what she was doing and she would be watching Johanna play or carry on. It was as if Cookie was playing nanny from afar. She didn't interrupt her playtime or get too involved in her business, she just sat there and watched her. Every so often she would get up and go lick Johanna in the face but then go on about her business.

I also caught on to Johanna's care for Cookie. I noticed that when Cookie wasn't in the room she would call out for her. Several times Johanna noticed that Cookie had ran off into the kitchen or even outside a couple of times (which she is allowed to do). Johanna took off into the kitchen to look for her, yelling her name. I couldn't help but melt inside because I realized just how much they care about each.

It's different when we are at home together and it's just the three of us. I know the bond exists there and I have no questions as to whether or not Cookie can tolerate Johanna or if Johanna loves Cookie. Just recently, Johanna started waking up in the morning calling out for Cookie. She's happy to see me, of course but the first thing she asks for is Cookie.

Now in all honesty, I didn't think their relationship would turn out so wonderfully. I've had Cookie for a long time and she is very attached to me. I thought that when Johanna came along she may not like her or may just be extremely jealous of her. But I'm impressed and so proud of how she's handled having another person in the house!

I wanted to share some ways that kids benefit from having a pet in the home !

- Increased self-esteem - this can be established when you allow your child to help with taking care of your pet

- They learn compassion - studies show that children with pets are empathetic towards other people because they learn the importance of taking care of something innocent

- They feel supported - pet's don't judge us and often times children recognize that

- They have less stress - (I think this one could go for parents as well) petting a dog or cat lowers cortisol levels in both humans and the pet. Also, try having your child read to your pet. Studies show that when reading to your pet, your stress level will decrease.

- They are happy - playing with pets increases levels of dopamine and serotonin

- They have a lesser chance of developing allergies - pet dander has been proven to help grow the immune system in children

- Pets help create consistency and a routine - who doesn't love that?!

- Pets help children cope with isolation and depression - they will always have a friend at home. Although some adults may not see it this way, children certainly view their pets as friends and even sometimes siblings.

- They reduce anxiety - cuddling or playing with your pet stimulates oxytocin and soothes anxiety

The moral of the story: Go get yourself a dog, Mama! I'm just kidding! Kind of. Although it seems as if pet's add a lot more responsibility and even chaos to the home, the benefits certainly outweigh the stress! I hope you enjoyed this blog. My girls really do have so much fun together!