Category Archives: animals

The dog days of depression

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?