Fluffy Power: the Mood-boosting effects of pets and why it's better to be more like them
What does a TV journalist, an 80-year-old lady, a young couple who just had their first baby, spouses who are interior designers, a disabled woman and a construction worker have in common?
In addition to living in the same neighbourhood, they all meet up every evening at 7:30 to chat and have their dogs play together.
As owners start arriving, they greet the dogs first: Mau, Jam, Nora, Tuca, Lluna, Coco, Bondi and Nour. The famous gang is also frequented by other neighbours from time to time, who bring their beloved pooches, Rufus, Tango, Jasper, Carlota.
Just like them, there are countless stories of friendships, love and entire communities of people coming together thanks to their four-legged companions. Indeed, pets are much more than just that. They change our lives for the better in ways we never imagined.
Healthy hearts and healthy minds
According to specialists, owning pets; dogs, cats, parakeets, rabbits, etc., improves mental and physical health by decreasing the feeling of loneliness and improving your mood and overall happiness.
What's more, doggies come with great physical benefits. Those extra 20 minutes of daily walks bring small healthy changes for dog owners which include keeping you slim, better cardiovascular health plus the mood-boosting endorphins that come with moving your body.
They make us rise to the challenge
When a person or a family decides to buy or adopt a pet, the animal's fortune changes and they're eternally grateful for it. Their sole job will be to love you whether you're happy or mad. Indeed, it's usually us who end up getting the most benefit from our four-legged buddies.
Sure, at times it may seem like more work than fun as they require a (sometimes significant) investment of time and money. But rising to the challenge, caring for them, handling the veterinary expenses and sterilization, provides us with a sense of responsibility and meaning. We are there for an animal that is entirely dependent on us.
In exchange, they give us unconditional love. Who can resist those sweet puppy eyes, that tail-wagging from joy, kitten purrs and rubs, making us smile every time we get back from a hard day of work.
Social (and social media) benefits
Undoubtedly, one of the best things about owning a pet is socialization. They can offer endless topics of conversation. What's more, they're and an inexhaustible source inspiration to create adorable images to share with our friends on our social channels.
It's no surprise pets are all over the internet and many even have their own social accounts to the point of achieving celebrity status. Who can forget the adorable 'Boo' the dog or the countless memes made of 'Grumpy cat'?
Even the elderly members of the dog-owner gang of the barrio have been motivated to get on social media to share their favourite snaps of their pooches.
There's a natural empathy, both online and offline, among animal lovers. A beautiful dog attracts attention and the admiration of others. Oftentimes a stranger will compliment you on your pet or ask you where you bought its collar. Can you imagine how many friendships or romantic relationships have started like that?
The benefit of being more doggy
However, there is another one crucial lesson our animals teach us every day: how to live in the moment. Animals don't spend hours ruminating on the past or worrying about tomorrow. Dogs don't judge every thought that gets into their minds.
We often get so caught up in our daily stress that we forget to enjoy what's in front of us. Animals can bring us closer to mindfulness, encouraging us to explore and accept how we feel in the present, without trying to figure out how to get out of it.
Next time you're feeling low, caress your furry, take it for a walk and, like a dog carrying a stick around a park, remember it's perfectly ok to have fun for the sake of it. Who would have thought we can make ourselves happier and the world better by being a bit more like them?