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Pet Smart
Photo: Studiomill
At the Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo, Japan, there stands a bronze statue dedicated to Hachiko, “man’s best friend.” A college professor, Hidesamura Ueno, brought the dog, an Akita breed, to Tokyo in 1924. The faithful canine met his master at the Shibuya Station every day when he got off work, to accompany him home.

In 1925, Ueno succumbed to a stroke while teaching at the University. Of course, Hachiko didn’t realize what had happened to his master and for 10 long years he continued to wait at the station for his owner to come home. The station master even built him a bed and fed him, as Hachiko lived at the station for a decade, faithfully awaiting the professors’ return until the pups’ death in 1935.

In Misiones, Argentina, a police woman recently discovered a homeless one-year-old boy sleeping at the bottom of a gutter. A pack of cats were tending to him. The felines were found licking the child, bringing him scraps of food and lying on him to keep him warm.

These two stories draw attention to the amazing loyalty and protection that animals sometimes shower on humans. But did you know that recent studies have revealed that pets also provide a number of surprising benefits to one’s health?

Lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are several benefits dog ownership may afford. Studies have actually shown that heart attack victims who own a pooch live longer than those who don’t. This may be related to the fact that dog owners generally get more exercise than the average person.

Positive Hormones

Even petting your pooch has benefits. Positive hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are released within minutes providing stress relief for both the dog and owner.

Even though cats generally don’t afford the same opportunity for outdoor exercise as hounds, researchers at University of Minnesota, recently found that cat owners had a 40% lower risk of heart attack death than those who had never owned a cat.

Although independent in nature, our feline friends can be a source of warmth and comfort. They purr at 25 vibrations per second which may help to lower blood pressure.

Even fish appear to offer healing benefits. Doctors and dentist have long been aware of their calming effect upon patients. Installing large wall aquariums in their waiting rooms does more than add interest to the office environment. Watching the fish float by creates a tranquil mood for waiting patients. In fact, one study revealed that gazing at the fish tank for 20 minutes was as effective at lowering stress as being hypnotized, for patients waiting to undergo dental surgery.

So, if you want to improve your health while providing a home for one of God’s creatures, pet ownership just might be the ticket.

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By Kathy A. Lewis. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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