A dog is a man’s best friend. Someone struggling in recovery recently said to me that getting a dog was the best thing they ever did. My first inkling was to think that might be too much responsibility for him. Let’s call him, Chris. Chris hasn’t been able to take care of himself for years. What would make me feel confident that he could take care of another living thing? Chris agreed with me wholeheartedly. He then told me about a few ways his puppy has saved his life during the recovery process, and surprisingly, they all made sense. Lets take a look at how pets can help people in recovery.
A Pet Loves you Unconditionally
There are no words to describe the unconditional love of a pet. They don’t hold grudges, you can make them happy at a drop of a hat, and they want nothing more than to make you happy. It’s in their wiring! Chris told me that his puppy is always there for him. Recovery has many hurdles no matter what stage you’re currently in, and having his puppy there for him through the good and the bad was a huge help. “We’ve all said things or done things we regret when we were under the influence, and to be honest a lot of people in my life aren’t around any longer. The pup is there no matter what, and that’s such a solid feeling.”
A Pet Teaches you Responsibility
Having something you love, and someone that loves you back unconditionally is great. However, this animal can’t feed itself, it can’t walk itself and it can’t clean up after itself. Chris said that during recovery it was nice to have his pup as an anchor. He couldn’t be out late because of his dog. He needed to keep his place clean. He had to feed and walk his dog. It gave him something to come home to, and a responsibility he needed to take care of.
Pets reduce Stress
During finals week, major Universities will bring puppies into the library for students under stress. Animals make people happy and relieve stress. When people are stressed while in recovery, it can make the process harder to deal with. Majority of people, are less stressed after hanging out with their pet, it’s beneficial. It’s also scientifically proven that cuddling (anyone) slows down your heart rate and helps calm people. Cuddling a puppy at the end of a long day is a fantastic way to channel positive energy.
That being said, it isn’t wise to get a pet if you are not in a position to take care of one. There are financial costs, and the overall responsibility of another life in your hands. However, if you are capable, there are many health benefits. We can all gain something positive by having love in our life, whether it be a pet, or someone else special. There is no such thing as too much love, and it makes any transition to a healthier life easier.