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February 20th is Love Your Pet Day.

By Jodi Thomas

February 20th is Love Your Pet Day. My husband gave me a wooden sign a few years back that reads, “Dogs Welcome. People Tolerated.”  Sadly, it’s not too far from the truth.  It’s hard to compete with a furry creature that is always happy to see you, does what you say (most of the time), and is always there for you.  I’m known to be a little “over the top,” shall we say, about my two rescues, Scout and Bear.  But come on!  They fill my heart with joy!  No matter where I go in my house, my two buddies follow me.  Well, now that Scout is almost 17, he can only follow me on the top level. . . but even though he struggles to get up and to walk, he still puts forth the colossal effort and follows me wherever I go.   It’s been proven that pets can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. . . and they increase not only oxytocin levels (the feel-good hormone), but also joy, laughter, and most of all, unconditional love.  Can I get an Amen to that?!  I certainly feel all that, and if you are crazy about your pet, I know you do, too.

With all these benefits, consider adopting a pet through a local shelter.  By adopting, you will reduce the demand that drives the commercial breeding of puppies and kittens. Each year, millions of healthy and well-behaved animals are destroyed in shelters and pounds simply because there are not enough homes for all of them. In our local shelter, that comes to about 12,000 dogs and cats each year!

If you own a pet already, please keep in mind:
• Dogs are pack animals; they like to be with.  Don’t keep a dog isolated outside or chained up.  If you have a chained up pet, please consider building a fence, bringing the pet inside, or giving the pet up for adoption. Tied-up outside, dogs become lonely, bored, and anxious, and they can develop aggressive behaviors. Bring a dog inside (or help a chained dog in your neighborhood) and you’ll keep everyone safer.
• Keep cats and dogs inside during cold weather.
• If your new pet is not already fixed, please make sure that you arrange to have it spayed or neutered as soon as possible.

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