Weston Osland author of this 2017-2018 MLHS senior student editorial
A Pet Paradise
Dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, amphibians, or insects – the possibilities for pets are endless. Not every pet will appeal to everyone, but every pet has something to offer someone. Pets have been a part of humans’ lives since ancient times and have even been worshipped by some societies. From being an almost god-like symbol to becoming a member of the family, pets have long been a part of human society, most likely because of how they can improve their owners’ lives. Having a pet is beneficial for mental health, physical health, and for developing character and responsibility.
First of all, owning a pet can greatly improve mental health for a variety of reasons. Having a pet offers many opportunities for socialization since most people love pets and will often stop pet owners in public to interact with the owner and pet. With constant socializing and attention because of their pets, pet owners’ brains stay active and retain the ability to learn. Without this interaction, the brain will start to become complacent and lose connections, which results in memory loss and eventually a degenerative brain disease such as Alzheimer’s. Owning a pet can also reduce feelings of loneliness, which can lead to sadness and even mental instability. However, a pet provides companionship and unconditional love, something almost all humans crave.
As well as benefitting a person’s mental health, a pet can also improve one’s physical health. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, having a pet can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Because pets provide stress relief, dogs are often brought into colleges and hospitals for the calming effect they have on people who are under large amounts of stress – college students and ill hospital patients. Another major physical benefit of pet ownership is the amount of exercise they can provide. Obviously, this caters more toward dog owners, but other pets, such as horses, require exercise as well. Without motivation, many people struggle to get out and exercise, but a pet can force those people to make that positive change in their lives. From there, a chain reaction occurs: A pet leads to exercise, and exercise leads to better health and more self confidence.
In addition to improving an owner’s physical and mental health, having a pet also improves character and responsibility. Because responsibility is very important for teens and young adults as they transition into independent adults in society, the everyday tasks of pet ownership–training, supplying food and drink, and giving attention–are very beneficial. With everyday tasks and responsibilities, teens are able to gain an idea of the demands of a real job. Without this responsibility and character development, teens could slip into habits of laziness and complacency, which will make them a detriment to society and the workforce. In dire need of responsible and diligent people in upcoming generations, the world needs more pet owners.
In conclusion, owning a pet can improve an owner’s mental health because of the companionship pets provide, benefit physical health because of reduced stress and increased exercise, and develop responsibility in individuals. In the end, I believe that those who are hesitant to get a pet, those who have never even thought of getting a pet, and even those who may not like animals will benefit from pet ownership.