Man’s Best Friend

Our relationship, in its simplest sense, is a form of symbiosis.

If you think about it, the concept of having pets is odd. You’re essentially letting this strange animal live in your house, rent free. They create clutter and chaos, unflagging in their curiosity and clumsiness. So why do we let them do this?

Despite the inevitable complications, pets are actually great for us and our mental health. Their presence, mannerisms, and simple existence all contribute to helping us heal.

“[My cats] just make me feel happy,” said Julia Kaltwasser, a CHS junior who has four cats. ”When I’m sad, they can tell.”

Over the pandemic, many students have faced mental challenges, stemming from remote school to the Covid-19 pandemic itself. In the last two years, over 23 million American households adopted pets. In my opinion, this is not a coincidence.

My younger sister had been urging my family to get a dog for years, but over quarantine, they finally caved. In July 2020, we welcomed Taffy, a baby Goldendoodle into our home.
Admittedly, I had initially been reluctant. Our house was already hectic enough— why did we need to add to that chaos? But as soon as I met Taffy, my entire perspective changed. Not only was she adorable, she gave me something to focus on in a time where I couldn’t do anything. Instead of rotting in my room all day, I could go outside and take her on a walk, or teach her a new trick, or even just read downstairs with her curled on my lap. She gave me routine, as well as a friend, in a time when I desperately needed both.

In my own experience, oftentimes the idea of being with another person seems exhausting or overwhelming. Talking would drain me and I just want to exist with someone. I think pets are perfect for that. They show us excessive amounts of support and love, purely by existing. Our relationship, in its simplest sense, is a form of symbiosis.

Substantial scientific evidence supports this claim. Many people diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression are prescribed therapy dogs. The reason this works is because the dog’s presence brings peace, calm and understanding. According to the National Service Dog Website, it may be hard for a person with anxiety or depression to be comfortable around people— they don’t feel that with a dog. The dog does not judge them and offers the person unconditional support. Knowing that this dog is with you, knowing that at the very least, there is one being in the room you can rely on, comforts people. A lot.

This comforting power has affected and saved so many people. An amazing way to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is to be around animals.