ROSE NOLEN: Animals can boost physical, emotional well-being when kept as pets

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:07 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One of my friends refused to have animals living in her house. It’s not that she had allergies; she just thought animals were dirty, and she was afraid they would bring ticks and fleas into her house. Her sister was just the opposite. She had four cats and a dog, and they all lived with her.

My friend’s sister credited her well-being to her animals. When my friend complained about her stress level, her sister quickly pointed to the absence of a pet in the house as a likely cause. According to the sister, her low blood pressure as well as the absence of anxiety in her life could all be attributed to her animals.

One thing was for sure: My friend’s sister lived in a happy house. Children were constantly visiting her animals and they romped all over the house. It seems as if there was always a birthday party going on. Toys were scattered all over the floor. My friend constantly complained that she could never visit her sister because the house was always filled with strangers.

It was hard to believe that these women were born to the same family. When their brothers came to visit, the families always stayed with the sister who had pets. The time they spent with their other sister was limited. My friend’s sister takes one of her pets to a local nursing home once a month. Evidently, the residents are thrilled with her visits.

My friend complained that she was lonely and her sister didn’t spend a lot of time in her company. My friend’s son bought her a parakeet to keep her company, but she said the bird kept the carpet dirty with its seeds. Ultimately, her sister adopted the bird and took it to her home.

When my friend got ill, she refused to move in with her sister to recuperate when she left the hospital. She left town and went to live with her son. As it turned out, her son had a dog that she ultimately fell in love with and brought him home to live with her when she returned. Today, she is a different person.

My friend and her sister get along quite well these days. Now her sister is allowed to bring one of her animals when she comes to visit. The two sisters even walk together every afternoon with their dogs.

Every now and then I encounter a person who does not like pets. Many of them had pets as children. I can’t help but wonder why they no longer enjoy them. I have one friend who actually fears cats. I asked her if she had a bad experience with cats, but she said she had never liked them.

Fortunately, most people love animals. They feel a sense of belonging when they are near their pet. That sense of belonging seems to make them better people.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion Editor Elizabeth Conner.

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