Pets can make the best companions for anybody for a whole host of reasons. Theres nothing better than the unconditional love you receive from an animal, especially dogs and cats. If you suffer with a chronic illness however, pets can be even more precious. They give us focus, routine and a reason to keep going. They offer an unbreakable bond of unspoken words and late night cuddles. They know when you’re sad, they sense it. Animals can be the best therapy when we’re feeling down. I haven’t got an animal so I wouldn’t know if the animal therapy theory is true. To find out, I spoke to some people who say that their mental health has been improved tremendously by their pet.
Ana and Benji the Beagle
First up. We meet Benji and hear how he has helped owner Ana recover from panic attacks and Agrophobia.
‘I suffer with anxiety, panic attacks and I’m a recovering agoraphobic. I can’t go out alone – but I am able to go out with a trusted friend or family member. When friends and family members are at work, I’m able to go for short walks thanks to Benji.
He also helps me in other ways by keeping me company (I own my own business and work from home), makes me smile, gives me a sense of purpose, and of course that unconditional love! Life is a lot lot lot easier because of Benji!’
Take a look at Ana @ Virtual Bird (@thevirtualbird): https://twitter.com/thevirtualbird?s=09
Elle and Gizzy The Cat.
Here’s Gizzy, she helps her owner Elle with her Chronic illness.
‘I suffer with a chronic illness that makes me faint and my cat picks up on when I’m feeling really bad because of it. My depression got worse as I cant go out much in case I faint and whenever I cried my cat Gizzy would come and cuddle me, lick me and comfort me. As soon as she picks up on me having a low mood she wont leave my side, she purrs very loudly to try and calm me down which oddly actually really helps. On days I don’t want to get out of bed she will jump on me roll around and inform me she wants treats which helps me get up and move about and concentrate on her needs. Getting her was the best choice I ever made, she was the runt of the litter and her owner was going to put her in a shelter if no one replied to her add so in a way we have helped each other.
My cats name is Gizzy she is 6 years old, she loves to go for walks on her harness outside and thinks she is a dog.’
Take a look at Elle 👑 (@EllexMay): https://twitter.com/EllexMay?s=09
Hannah and Thor!
Next we meet, Thor! His owner Hannah opens up about how much he has helped her…
‘I suffer from anxiety and depression and have done for years. I cry in front of him and he is right by my side every single time. He won’t leave me alone until I have stopped and calmed down. He doesn’t pick and choose when he’s my friend, he always is. Walking helps get me out of the house on the days I don’t want to leave because I owe it to him (and obviously he needs the exercise). I couldn’t imagine now having a dog not to mention the welcome reception I get from him every single time I see him.’
Rebekah and Dante the Husky
Rebekah tells us why Dante does the job in making her feel better…
‘I have autism and our Siberian Husky dantè has helped me so much. When I get stressed or feel lonely he’s there. He will just chill beside me to calm me down. Also he’s helped me to get out of the house more and meet new people.’
Take a look at Rebekah 👑 (@RebekaahRose): https://twitter.com/RebekaahRose?s=09
Zoe and Angus the Pug!
Angus helped turn Zoe’ s life around for the better…
‘Angus is my pug, he’s four in April. I’ve always been obsessed with pugs, so I bought him as a puppy in 2014 when I was 18. My mental health was pretty bad at that point, my anxiety was so awful I would hardly go outside. The only thing that would get me out was seeing his sad puppy eyes looking at his harness and lead. Walking with him regularly slowly helped me get back into a normal routine. Pugs attract a lot of attention, so having him with me helped when speaking to strangers. He’s always so playful and confident – it’s hard being anti-social when you have such a sociable dog! Angus always cheers me up when I’m feeling sad or lonely and the best part of my day is returning from work after a horrible day with Angus to greet me. Having Angus to look after has given me a reason to get out of bed, something to go outside for and reason for routine and purpose. He is just the best!’
Take a look at Han Zolo (@ZoeDonna95): https://twitter.com/ZoeDonna95?s=09
Missy and her Maine Coon
Missy adopted her Maine Coon 1 and a half years ago…
‘My #MaineCoon absolutely knows my moods and how I am feeling. Sweetest cat I’ve ever met. If I’m having bad anxiety he does not leave my side.’
Take a look at Missy🌺✨ (@MissyTinoco): https://twitter.com/MissyTinoco?s=09
Sarah and Juliet
Juliet helps Sarah and her roommate…
‘My dog’s name is Juliet. We’ve had her since September of last year and we think she’s around 2.5-3 years old. We got her from someone who was deployed and couldn’t keep her anymore. My roommate has bipolar disorder and I have generalized anxiety disorder. My roommate got Juliet registered as an emotional support animal to help supplement her meds. Juliet loves people and loves to cuddle. She can tell when something is wrong or if you’re feeling sad or upset. She LOVES to lick people and is always looking for physical affection/willing to give physical affection. She doesn’t bark and she’s a good guard dog, but is also super sweet. We love her so much and it feels like we’ve had her longer than we have.’
Take a look at Sarah Guenther (@curiositygrace): https://twitter.com/curiositygrace?s=09
Clare, Ethan and Cocoa the Chocolate Labradoodle.
Cocoa has changed this family’s life…
‘We had a dog for my autistic son. It was life changing. I never imagined the difference it would make. She has saved his life many times. She was his sensory support, opepened so many doors of isolation and the list goes on. She gives him freedoms, independence, she didn’t expected him to talk. He trusted anything that was brown because he trusted her -she was brown. He couldn’t eat but would eat chocolate. That save his life. To her tribute we name our snack Nono Cocoa.’
Take a look at Nono Cocoa (@nonococoauk): https://twitter.com/nonococoauk?s=09
So there you have it. Proof that animals do really help when you’re feeling down. Do you have a pet? Do they help you? Let me know in the comments!