If you have pets, then not every member of your family is two-legged; our four-legged family members are a crucial part of the crew! Our pets provide us with unconditional love, companionship, and all the snuggles. As a pet owner, you know how much joy, fun, and affection they can add to your daily life. A survey from Rover highlights what a valued role our pets play: 79 percent of respondents said their pets are included in family moments, such as holiday cards and vacations, and 1 in 4 dog owners have brought their dog on a date with them. Additionally, 65 percent of dog owners report taking more pictures of their dog than of their friends or family, and 54 percent would consider ending a relationship if they thought their dog did not like their partner. Research shows us what anyone with a pet already knows: pets are important members of the family and hold a significant place in our lives.
Pets also add extra responsibility to our lives, which can be challenging at times. When you go out of town, you have to figure out who will be caring for your pet while you are gone. If you are taking your four-legged buddy with you, you need to make sure your pet fits into your travel plans and will be welcome at your accommodations. All of this can be a lot to figure out!
Traveling with pets becomes a whole new ball game when you are moving. This can especially be a challenge for military families, who oftentimes have little preparation to prepare for a move and no control over where they are moving. When my husband and I were informed by the Army that we would be moving from Savannah, Georgia, to Hawaii, we not only had our small terrier mix, Montana, but we had recently adopted a 70-lb shepherd mix, Ranger. Not only did we have the travel plans to navigate (How do you fly two dogs across the world? What’s best for our dogs, what makes the most sense, and what is our safest and most affordable option?), but Hawaii has special laws in place about incoming dogs that require multiple vet visits, mounds of paperwork, and a whole lot of stress. However, we took our lead from our soon-to-be home state: “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind.” After navigating the many challenges of a military move with our pets, Montana and Ranger are now island dogs who love their beach walks and continue to give us daily joy.
In addition to being our best buds, did you also know that pets improve our mental health? Dogs in particular have been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, ease loneliness, increase exercise and play, increase social interaction, and improve our cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that when you connect with your pet through petting or grooming, oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety, is released and is known to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. If you are wondering if your dog or cat may qualify as an emotional support animal, we can help you with this at Smart Talk. We provide emotional support animal assessments, treatment and coping skills for any anxiety or depression you may be struggling with, as well as emotional support animal letters when appropriate. Feel free to reach out to us about this, and in the meantime, happy snuggling, playing, and exploring with your four-legged best friend!
We continue to accept new clients from New York, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, California, and outside of the USA (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Mexico).
Written by Krista Harper, LMFT
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