Pets soothe stressed companions suffering from financial difficulties
Excerpted from the July-August issue of All Animals magazine
|John Hennion and his mastiff Nando are getting through hard times by sticking together. © Linda Hwang|
by Arna Cohen
John Henion is coping from losing his job as a television producer and editor by spending more time with his mastiff mix Nando. “My quality of life has gone down, but his has gone way up,” says the 32-year-old Oakland, Calif., resident, laughing. "He gets a lot more of my time and attention."On one of their walks, Henion and Nando met a couple who had to give up their dog because they’d lost their house. “I felt so bad for them. I never considered losing Nando. He’s half the reason I’ve been able to keep my sense of humor,” says Henion, who with a similarly jobless friend writes an “Unemploymentality” blog offering tongue-in-cheek musings on their status.
When facing financial setbacks, many pet owners realize they can sacrifice plenty if it means keeping their pets. They might clip coupons, do without new clothes, and forgo restaurant meals, travel, and cable TV.
“It’s funny what you don’t miss when you don’t have it,” says Henion.
A True Friend in Need
The devotion is understandable, given the benefits of animal companionship. Many studies show that simply stroking a pet lowers blood pressure, eases depression, and speeds healing.
Pets also boost our self-esteem, says Sue-Ellen Brown, a clinical psychologist at the Tuskegee University Center for the Study of Human-Animal Interdependent Relationships.
“For people who have lost their jobs and then have to face losing their animals because of the inability to care for them financially, [that is] a double whammy,” says Brown. “Their stress levels will be much more likely to predispose them to a physical illness as well as [to] mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.”
Ways to Cut Costs, Not Quality
Ease the drain on your wallet without compromising care. Here are some tips to help you and your pets through hard times:
FOR MORE money-saving pet care tips, visit humanesociety.org/petfinancialaid.
Arna Cohen is a writer for All Animals magazine, the bimonthly membership magazine of The Humane Society of the United States.