There is nothing better than coming home to our four-legged friends after a stressful day at work, they are always pleased to see with a waggy tail us or in a cat’s world... with a bowl of Whiskas.
It is a well-known fact that dogs and cats provide comfort when we need it and ease anxiety in us just by stroking them, they provide companionship and a great motivation to get up on those harder mornings. Dogs can encourage going out for walks which can lead to socialising and daily exercise which can also be a great way to lift your mood if you are feeling a little low.
I can’t tell you the amount of times my cat has snuggled with me on my lowest days, in the past when I was too mentally and physically exhausted to leave my bed or sofa he would always curl up and sleep next to me, it was just a comfort to know that he was there. During this time, he also gave me a bit of purpose in my life, I was responsible for him and it encouraged me to keep going and fighting the black dog. Us humans do have a desire to be needed and pets fulfil that need, they are dependant on us for food, water, playing, exercise and occasionally a lap to snuggle on.
My counsellor has a golden retriever who sits with us in our sessions and gives the room a more calming effect, it helps distract my mind from the pressure of talking and lets my words flow more freely. When the weather is nice we have the option to take her for a walk around some peaceful woods, the walk and talk therapy is a personal favourite, I find it so much easier to talk about what’s on my mind whilst strolling down a countryside path. I have had some of the hardest conversations with the therapy dog by my side.
Someone said to me recently “We can learn a lot from dogs, they are the perfecters of living in the moment, we spend our time worrying about past regrets or the future and they just live for now”. It really did resonate with me and how many of us are spending time worrying about what we have done or what could go wrong in the future rather than just enjoying and living in the moment. If we all just focused on the ‘here and now’.
Animals don’t judge, are the perfect secret keepers and reduce loneliness, having these four-legged therapists in our lives are a blessing in disguise.
By Sophie Collumbell in Counsellor's Cafe Magazine on July 31, 2020