When my parents separated, my mom and brother and myself moved to Port Elizabeth for a few years to start new and fresh. I was young, around 3 years old when we moved.
We lived there for a few years before moving back to Cape Town because my mom had gotten a better job. We moved in with my grandparents and started a life here again. When I was in the second grade, my mom married my stepfather.
Now any one that knows me knows that I have a deep rooted passion for animals. I understand them and I feel the most at ease around them because they are selfless and the only creatures that love us more than they love themselves.
My grandparents had quite a few animals at home and I really felt happy there. When my mom remarried, we moved to a home with no animals and to top it all off, we were in the middle of a very difficult time for my brother and I.
I was quite alone and I missed being around animals. So one day, my stepfather came home with my first dog. A beautiful ball of black and white fluff that we named Domino. A beautiful Border Collie with big brown eyes that looked straight into my soul.
She became my safety net and the one thing in life that could be a constant. She was soft and sweet and gentle. She is what made me happy and what calmed me when I was afraid and unsure.
Needless to say, once the difficult time passed, Domino was still my best friend and my go-to for difficult times.
She could always put a smile on my face with her crazy antics. She used to pull washing off of the line as an adolescent phase female dog. She tries to herd birds and still tries to in her old age. She even tries to herd my younger dog and my cat. She is quite the entertainer.
I could and still can count on her for complete gentleness and that calms down all the anxiety I have. She has been with me now for a very long time. Since just before I turned 8.
Having an animal or more than one in the home is incredibly important for a child’s growth. Not only does it teach them responsibility but it also teaches them compassion and it is scientifically proven to have a positive and calming effect on anxiety and depression (this is something I completely relate to and understand.) Having an animal also helps a child feel secure when going through a difficult time period, perhaps being bullied and ridiculed at school.
Being surrounded by animals and feeling responsible for their care really does help you feel needed and wanted in a society that tries to isolate you for being different. Without my furkids, I would still be lost and consumed with negative feelings. They taught me to let go and live in the moment and that is incredibly important.
Domino taught me to be calm and to think before acting, to calculate and to act cautiously but confidently and Chester taught me that forgiveness is key but never forget, to learn from an experience and let it better the kind of person you are.
If you are in Cape Town and the surrounding areas, go to http://www.luckylucy.org to adopt a furry four legged family member that desperately needs a home. (I adopted Chester from the Lucky Lucy Foundation.)
Some benefits on animal therapy;
- lowers blood pressure
- improves cardiovascular health
- releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect
- diminishes overall physical pain
- the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need
- lifts spirits and lessens depression
- decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
- encourages communcation
- provides comfort
- increases socialization
- reduces boredom
- lowers anxiety
- helps children overcome speech and emotional disorders
- creates motivation for the client to recover faster
- reduces loneliness
- increases joint movement and improves recovery time
- maintains or increases motor skills
- provides motivation to move more, stretch farther, exercise longer
Animal therapy made my life better, I know for a fact it can make yours better too.