By Ann Stacker

A few weeks ago, a letter sent to a well-known advice columnist began “A recent death in my family has affected me greatly.” The letter went on to describe the wonderful traits of her beloved 9-year old pet Labradoodle. “Her love for others was boundless. Her enthusiasm for life unparalleled. Her sense of humor was remarkable. She greeted me with love every day.” The owner was suffering very real grief. Sadly, this person has encountered a number of people whose attitude is “get over it, she was just a dog.” Now obviously, not all people care to have pets, but fortunately more people do understand her sense of loss.
Pets can be a great prescription for people. Recent medical studies have documented many physical benefits of caring for a pet; lowering blood pressure, aiding in healing, increasing longevity, and even relaxing and improving the appetites of patients. The benefit of a dog for those suffering from PTSD is now widely recognized. Unconditional love from a pet reduces stress and depression and helps alleviate loneliness, especially for the elderly. Dog ownership also contributes to increased exercise and positive social interactions. Pets add richness to our lives and provide a great antidote to any stressful day.

I am proud that my profession contributes to the well-being of both people and their pets. The vets at Paso Petcare have increased the lifespan of our pets with vaccinations, improved nutrition, parasite treatment, and birth control, but it is still a sad fact that most animals have much shorter lives than we do. Since many people consider their pets to be full-fledged family members, they mourn their loss deeply. In my almost 40 years as a small animal vet, I’ve seen owners (including adults) cry over the loss of even the tiniest pet. This human-animal bond is strong and real, and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. While the loss can often seem unbearable, we still would not go without the joy and benefits our pets bring to our lives every day.
This year we celebrate “The Year of the Dog” on the Chinese calendar. They observe that dogs are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. With their strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, dogs will do anything for the person most important to them. I would add dogs help keep us happy and healthy. I am very honored and grateful to be entrusted with the care of beloved pets every day.
Dr. Ann and her dedicated staff at Paso Petcare Veterinary Hospital provide compassionate, quality care for all sorts of small animal pets at their full-service facility; serving our local community since 2000. For more information visit pasopetcare.com.