We recently bought a dog. He is a Bernese Mountain Dog. His name is Sebastian Augustus:
Yes, he’s crazy cute. Yes, we have an over-the-top approach to names. Ask our children about that when they’re adults! And yes, he will be a lot of work, cost money, etc., etc., etc. I know. Believe me I know. We got him because we’ve always wanted a dog, because the kids wanted a dog, and because the timing and the price was right.
I have to admit, however, that I was a little taken aback by one of the side benefits of getting a dog. I’ve read elsewhere that having an animal call help with depression. Perhaps you’ve heard of service animals, that go into nursing homes or hospitals to help cheer up the sick. I am beginning to wonder if we shouldn’t create a category of service animals for the clinically depressed.
What I have found thus far is that owning an animal has filled a niche that I didn’t know existed. A dog just wants to be with you, loves unconditionally, and (despite some occasional poop) is generally pretty easy to care for. I expect that will change somewhat as he gets bigger. But right now, I’m enjoying things for what they are. He’s helped me exercise, spend less time on the computer (always a good thing in my case), and has really lifted my mood in a very different way than all of my usual tricks.
So am I crazy? How has your animal helped you? How might this fit into a treatment plan for helping the clinically depressed?