Do you believe our pets can sense our feelings? I believe Angel has kept me healthy and happy. Since the first time I walked with Angel, it has been quite impossible for me to lie in bed and be sad or depressed. She just wouldn’t let that happen. She would either jump in bed with me, or do something funny like bring me her leash, her toy, her “walking” shirt (a dog t-shirt that says “rescued and loved “ which I have been making a habit of letting her wear when we go for a walk). One time she even brought me one of my running shoes. It just tickled me so.
I remember one time when I had to work on completing a chapter for my dissertation and I thought I just didn’t have the time to walk with Angel that day. And so I tried to be smart and I put up all Angel’s leashes, far away from her reach, so she couldn’t bring them to me. At this time, by the way, my loving husband had also started his project of converting our carpet into hardwood flooring and some of his stuff were on the floor. To my surprise, Angel brought me my husband’s tape measure. She must have thought it was a leash because it had a black lanyard which resembled the black cord on her leashes. I couldn’t stop laughing. I had to call my husband and tell him. I guess you know what happened after: I ended up taking her for a walk when I took a break from studying. I figured she deserved it for all her efforts. I must have thought I was rewarding her by taking her for that walk, but after taking the walk, my mind was so clear and I was able to finish the chapter quickly that I was probably really the one who got rewarded.
My daily walks with Angel have indeed kept me healthy and happy. As you know, sometimes when you are writing your dissertation, self-doubt could rear its ugly head, and if you were not careful, it could rob you of your joy and inspiration. I believe that walking with Angel really helped me through those challenging days until I could finally finish my dissertation. Could our pets really have this positive effect on us? Yes, yes, yes! A friend of mine told me a while ago that her cats were the only reason she got up every day when she was clinically depressed. She had to get up to make the cats’ meals. Now that she is feeling much better, she is so grateful to her pets for her survival. And just yesterday I was reading a touching story about how a Labrador helped a lady from suffering depression after her brother, whom she loved very much, passed away (www.thepetplace.com). This dog did everything it could to get her out of bed including pulling her blanket or the sheets and even barking at her to the point that she would actually get up. The Labrador also helped cheer up another dog, her brother’s dog. It was so touching how this Labrador was able to help the lady and her brother’s dog in dealing with their grief and loss. Maybe you also have heard of other stories of the effect of the love of a pet on people’s lives, maybe you even have your very own story to tell. This human-animal bond can be so strong that it can be a source of healing.
Of course, there are those wonderful physical benefits of exercise that walking with my Angel has given me: a chance to better enjoy sunny days and get Vitamin D, get some fresh air, improve my cardio and overall improve my health. But more than that, I have found that walking gives me energy and focus. The walks also get me out of the house and give me a chance to take a break from house chores or from studying. It is fun for me and I know it is fun for Angel. She loves walking. Sometimes, I bring my Ipod and listen to an audiobook of John C. Maxwell’s “Talent Is Not Enough”. And sometimes I pray while we walk. I praise God and thank Him for His many blessings. I pray for our family and friends especially those who are sick. I pray for special intentions. I pray for our family. I pray for our friends. It is wonderful that in this sense, my pet has been like a true angel: bringing me closer to God.
Sometimes when we walk, I pat Angel gently and she looks happily back at me, with her mouth open as if smiling, her eyes almost winking. As we end our last lap, I say “Good job, Angel, you did three laps today!” I hug her close, just before I let her get in the backseat of the car. It’s time to go back home, after another day of walking with my Angel.

© Karen Galarneau 2013



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