The Healing Power of Pets

by Christine Sine
service dogs at communion at St Alban's Episcopal church

service dogs at communion at St Alban’s Episcopal church

Did you know that having a cat around the house can cut the risk of heart attack by almost 50% and that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol? Those of us who are animal lovers have known for a long time that animals buffer us against stress and anxiety – it is just good to hear that science has finally caught up with us and “proved it”. All this from a recent article in Alternet which quotes a recent study by the University of Minnesota. Interestingly kids who have pets when they are young are less likely to get allergies too. Pets are now not just being used by the blind and disabled to act as eyes, ears and (in the case of diabetics) glucose monitors. They are also being used as therapy in hospitals and hospice care centres. Pets as Therapy is one organization that provides this service. They are not just good for preventing strokes and heart attacks but often assist in people’s recovery after these illnesses.

We have several people at our church that train service dogs. I particularly love to see them wagging their tails up at the altar rail for communion. Once a year we do a dog blessing before the dogs are sent out to their service assignments. I think this is a wonderful ministry – another one of God’s hidden mustard seeds. Imagine how many people a ministry like this must bless.

So my recommendation for the day – go out and pet your dog or cat – and if you don’t have one of your own borrow your neighbour’s.

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Christine Sine May 16, 2008 - 4:41 pm

I do feel that this is another indication of where Christians have forgotten the wonder of God’s good creation and of our connectedness to it – not that we worship creation but that we recognize the presence of God reflected in it… and pets are a great example of that.

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