OPINION: Our pets make these challenging times a lot more bearable

A view of life in Donegal through the coronavirus crisis and beyond

Lacey our lovely Labrador who came into our lives via the pound

Lacey our lovely Labrador who came into our lives via the pound

It is said that a dog is man’s best friend, and never have we needed our furry friends more.

First of all, they are great company. At the most fundamental level, they fulfill a need for touch, responses and love. They allow us to indulge our nurturing instinct and give us a sense of purpose.

Over time, they become tuned into our moods and body language to a depth that can be quite astonishing. Not so long ago, I spent a night in A&E. I was only there as a precaution after a minor accident but it was a sobering experience. When I came home, my lovely Labrador who would normally be very excited to see me after I had been away just sat quietly with her head on my shoulder, not taking her eyes off my face. She stayed like that for ages and it was exactly what I needed. She hasn’t done that before or since. 

Dogs in particular give us a real sense of purpose. As with cats and other pets, they need regular feeding, grooming, snuggles and general TLC. But with dogs, there is an important physical element. They need regular exercise, and so the owner gets the benefits too.

Dogs and cats also help people to feel secure, especially if they are living alone or of a nervous or anxious disposition.

Pets don’t have to be of the furry variety to be beneficial. I kept terrapins in my youth and loved them. We’ve had fish too, and watching them in the tank is very therapeutic. And again, they give us a routine and something to care for other than ourselves.

Pets also keep us entertained, whether they are playful kittens or excited pooches.

Not everyone who is self-isolating, cocooning or observing lockdown is fortunate enough to have a pet to help keep a smile on their face. But those who do will certainly be glad of the company, purpose and unconditional love that our animal companions bring to our lives.

Read next: The day the sun didn't dance across the sky in Donegal - and the brighter future that followed

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