Sunshine – metaphorical sunshine – comes in many forms. Each of us
has a different vision of what will bring happiness and contentment. During
the pandemic, many have imagined being greeted by a dog’s wagging tail as
the answer to hard times and loneliness.

Any dog owner will tell you that her pet offers unconditional love and
emotional support. A dog’s presence is comforting and often the source of
smiles. That might mean chasing a ball, curling up at your feet, or playing
tug of war with you over its favorite toy.

Considering dog ownership objectively, multiple studies have shown
that dogs help reduce stress and anxiety. That’s why therapy dogs are in
such demand in hospitals and nursing homes. Even just petting a familiar
dog lowers blood pressure and heart rate as well as slowing breathing and
reducing muscle tension. In fact, scientists have found that spending 10
minutes petting a dog can result in a significant decrease in cortisol, a major
stress hormone.

You may not need me to tell you about the benefits of dog ownership. Since the
beginning of the pandemic, demand for dogs has reduced the population of shelters. Some
would-be dog owners arrange the transportation from shelters in other states and even
out of the country.

Although I’m a devoted dog owner, I hasten to say that many find pleasure in
owning cats. Their soft furry bodies and warm purrs can brighten days – especially during
the quarantine. Many cats have been adopted from shelters too.

If your lease doesn’t permit a dog or cat, maybe a rabbit would be permitted.
They’re high on the cuddle factor and can be litter trained.

By adopting a shelter animal, you’re saving a sentient being from death. That
knowledge is sure to add to the positive feeling resulting from pet ownership.

BTW, The beautiful dog in the picture is my girl Sara who came to me from a Los
Angeles shelter 10 years ago.