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Pets and People: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Not all pets are as famous as Jessica Simpson's or Paris Hilton’s, but even low-profile, everyday household pets can change a person's life. From teaching kids responsibility (and providing a lot of fun and love along the way) to comforting the elderly, pets are an important aspect in our lives.
While just having pets around can brighten your day — and even relieve stress, lower your blood pressure and, some say, make you live longer — some pets do even more.
•Pets of all sorts are being used to assist in occupational therapy, providing comfort and encouragement to patients as well as providing help with particular skills. Grooming a dog, for instance, can help increase balance, improve muscle tone and aid in refining small motor skills.
•Dogs can be trained to assist diabetics, alerting them when blood sugar gets too high or too low.
•Service dogs — and even monkeys — can make everyday tasks more manageable for wheelchair-bound people. They can pick up dropped items, open heavy doors, and even retrieve ringing telephones. And, of course, like other pets, they provide comfort and encouragement.
•Dogs have long been trained to assist vision- and hearing-impaired people by guiding them, alerting them to dangers, and more.
From ordinary household pets to essential, highly trained service animals, pets come in all shapes, sizes and species. But one thing they all have in common is how much they add to our lives. And we’re returning the favor by adding to theirs.
Around the world, people are spending more on pet products and services than ever before. From posh beds and fancy toys to specialized medical treatments and luxury kennels, we are lavishing our pets with all that love — and money — can provide. And, yes, your cat may choose to play with the paper carrier bag the high-dollar toys came in rather than with the toys themselves, and, yes, a dog may be just as happy in an ordinary kennel while you’re away than it is in one of the newer spa-type establishments, but lately, we tend not to put a price on our pets' happiness. And in the long run, that’s okay. Considering all they give to us, a little massage therapy or a fancy water dish may not be too high a price to pay for devoted companionship, faithful service, and, in some cases, even lower medical costs for ourselves.