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Give me your unconditional love . . .

Those who don’t own pets simply don’t understand. Conversely, many who own pets simply don’t get it. There is an unconditional bond when you give of yourself for your pets. But it goes deeper than that.

Research over the past 25 years has proven that pets not only enrich our lives, they enrich our health. Studies show that pets increase social activity (and get us outdoors), lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce depression and anxiety (especially in Alzheimer’s patients), and contribute to boosting our immune system. While previous medical knowledge led us to believe that pets were a cause of allergies and asthma in children, recent research has proven exactly the opposite. (Source: Center for Disease Control)

Living with a pet, especially a dog, lowers an infant’s chances of allergies, including eczema -- an allergic reaction of the skin. Children living with dogs also show higher levels of immune system chemicals. (Source: WebMD)

Additionally, the increased exercise levels, coupled with lowered cholesterol and stress, can positively impact our heart health. In an older study by the National Institute for Health, it was shown that, post heart-attack (Myocardial Infarction), “all myocardial infarction (MI) patients who owned a pet were in relatively better health . . . “. But, we pet-owners already know animals are good for our heart.

There is something to be said for having the security and reassurance of a wagging tail or purr upon arriving home after a long day at the office. The stress of the world just seems to melt away when we feel that furry loved one reaching out to us.

One thing we don’t realize as pet-owners is that our pets live for that moment, too. Seeing us as leaders and providers, dogs rely heavily on us for guidance and security. And, as several studies have shown, when we leave for a period of time, cats (being the wild-at-heart animals they truly are) believe us to have been eaten by a predator. So, imagine their relief when we come home!

As Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote in his classic book, The Little Prince, "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

That’s a two-way street.

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