Owning a Pet Can Be Your #BestMedicine

There are so many ways pets give joy to us and to others. In fact, I recommend that anyone who loves animals consider adopting. Right now, I’m the proud owner of two sweet cats, and they always find a way to make my day better.

But I first learned about the magic of owning a pet many years ago. When I was younger and living with my parents, they owned a sweet dog named Sandi who helped pull me out of a pretty bad depression. That dog taught me that animals can be amazingly in tune with our emotions and know exactly what to do when we’re at a particularly low point.

Sandi was a mixed-breed mutt that my parents adopted from a local shelter. When she was a little puppy, she was sickly, and we nursed her to health with medicine in an eyedropper. She grew into a strong and happy adult dog. She loved me, but she was attached to my dad like no other. She followed him wherever he went.

Sandi was a few years old when I went through a bad breakup. It really knocked the wind out of me, and I found myself plummeting into depression. I never wanted to get out of bed! I’d just huddle under the covers with the door to my bedroom closed and the lights off — but Sandi would have none of that. She stopped following my dad around so much and got really obsessed with the fact that my door was closed. She sat in front of the door and barked frantically. In fact, she wouldn’t stop until I opened it and let her in. Every day, she’d do that because she instinctively knew it was best if I wasn’t alone.

At first, Sandi would just lay on the bed, providing warmth and comfort. But then she started demanding a little more of me in that cute way that only dogs can do. She’d yip and yap and get me out of bed to chase her around the room, then she’d get me to follow her out into the hall. Eventually, she’d bug me with her little barks until I took her outside and chased her around the backyard. We spent a lot of fun afternoons just lying in the grass, feeling the sun beat down on us.

All that time I spent playing with my dog instead of sulking in my room worked wonders. Once I was getting out of the house, I was able to start hanging out with my friends again, too. I moved on with my life, and before I knew it, I was happy again.

That happiness all started because my silly, sweet dog wouldn’t let me shut her out and sulk alone. Once I was better, she sensed it and went back to following my dad around the house all the time. She knew I was OK and that she had done her job successfully. She was definitely my #bestmedicine.

Has owning a pet ever served as #bestmedicine for you? We’d love to hear your story. Tweet the hashtag #bestmedicine to @humankindness and @StephanieDube.

Image source: Stephanie Dwilson