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  • Writer's pictureDotty Ann Harding

Why Having A Dog Or Cat Helps Your Mental Health

I have seen how important companion animals are to those in military life, as sometimes they are young people, some of whom are away from family and friends for the first time. Their pets play a significant role in their daily activities and social interactions. I see them actively engaged or sitting quietly on a bench or bench, watching the sunset together. They are so willing to sit beside you and listen as you pour out your hopes, dreams, and fears that perhaps you would not openly share with others....ending with, do you want to go for a walk!

When I am out and about with my dog,GoGee, I am approached many times by other folks and the conversation always begins about her. So I have the opportunity to engage in social conversations that never would have happened, meet new people, and make new friends, as there is a common unspoken bond with those who have a pet that makes conversation so easy.

Sometimes it is hard to believe the joy I feel just sharing the happiness of life, with so little effort with her, and of course, a couple of treats never hurts. Her biggest thrill is being my wing-girl riding in the car. The longer the journey, the better. And the training we have received from Sandra Harknett, Purrfect Pooches, helps, as she is so well behaved she goes most places with me.

At times it's challenging to get out of my own way when I am stressed about something or have a deadline looming. So having a pet dependent on me for their needs allows me to refocus on what actually needs to be done, redirect my attention so I can accomplish the goals of helping others. As a result, my pets are a considerable asset.

The Caveat: Be Prepared and Aware

Some folks can suddenly find themselves in a situation they did not anticipate, even though the circumstances that brought them to the same point vary. Deployment, divorce, relocation due to employment, the list goes on. What they are facing is NOW WHAT!!! Their pet is not allowed to accompany them, their new home doesn't allow them to have pets, it involves a family member's pet, and the owner has become ill and can no longer take care of them. The main problem in helping anyone in this situation is the time factor. When the time factor is short, finding a new home for the animals needing one remains tough.

Any rescue can repeat many of these same stories, which is sad and disheartening. But unfortunately, the reality is that too many companion animals in need of assistance find themselves out of time. Sometimes desperate people do desperate things, hoping that someone would see their dog or cat and help them.

There is a long waiting list of animals to get accepted into the Onslow County Animal Shelter; usually, it's months long. And many rescues are filled. So try to have a backup plan for these contingencies in your pocket, and remember having the time to put your plan into action will provide a better outcome. So be aware and understand the complexities of your current situation to help you make the best decision for all involved. And please note that many rescues and shelters desperately need fosters to help extend the time needed to find animals in their care a new home. is published every month and is filled with animals of all shapes and sizes needing homes.

GoGee, the dog I mentioned in this article, was a dog I adopted from the shelter with only a day left to live, as her time was up, and at the time, she was ill. I couldn't leave her, so here she is with me nine years later. There are so many like her…….

You can make a huge difference!

GoGee pictured below



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