By Lucia Ferrara
Do you have a furry friend who has become part of your family? Does that family member listen to you without any judgment? Does that family member depend on you for support, love, and companionship? Of course! Our pets can indeed become important family members. People often do not realize that— a cat, dog, bird or whatever suits your fancy — pets can and do have an enormous impact on people’s lives.
These members of the family can be especially important to those around you. People around the world are learning that the connection between their pet is good for their physical health and mental well-being.
All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.
People enjoy walking their pets, playing with them, and talking to them. Evidence suggests that the bond or attachment a person shares with their animal is not only good for overall human health but also for the community in which they live too.
For example, if you are out walking your dog, you may run into a neighbor you have never met and spark up a conversation or better yet a friendship just because you were walking the dog. This is what I call building connections in your community.
Dogs and cats especially can reduce depression, anxiety and stress in adults and children. Pets provide companionship that is valuable to humans. Caring for an animal helps children become responsible and more secure and active in their life.
Homemade Pumpkin-Banana Doggie Treats
By Lucia Ferrara
St. Francis of Assisi was the mystical mendicant who lived in Italy 800 years ago but still influences our lives today through the religious movement he started. Because of his legendary love of God’s creation, Francis is the patron saint of ecology and animals. Therefore, what better way to honor the saint than to make and share doggie treats! Watch the Video Now.
Pets encourage nurturing skills, according to a psychologist Elizabeth Anderson, who writes in her book, The Powerful Bond Between People and Pets: “Nothing less than alchemy is involved when animals and children get together, and the resulting magic has healing properties that work well.”
Some of the healing properties or long-lasting effects of owning a pet include overall better health, more physical activity, higher self-esteem, better social skills, higher cognitive development and improved communications skills.
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St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day we celebrate this month, is the patron saint of animals. He had a deep love of God’s creatures both big and small. He is noted for preaching sermons to animals and his insistence that all creatures are brothers and sisters under God.
Pope John Paul II encouraged all people to follow St Francis’ example of embracing all creatures as members of the family by offering them respect, dignity and care. I want to encourage you to embrace St. Francis’ attitude and love for God’s creations all around us, but especially for those creatures who also need us as their support and companion in life.
Maybe go to your nearest animal shelter and adopt a pet to love as God loves you!
[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]
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