Sherry A. Phillips

Suspense Author

How Pets Improve Your Life


I have always had some sort of pet in my life. I cannot imagine not having animals.

When I was 3 I had goldfish (which, if I was lucky, lasted about a week). I also had 2 turtles named No-No and So-So (don’t ask … I was 3).

At 5, I got my first cat named Kitty Grey. Then there was Spot. Spot was Kitty Grey’s son. He was almost like a dog and followed me everywhere. He even followed me on the school bus one day. There was Tiger, Princess and Jasper. They were all outdoor cats and eventually, they all came to a sad ending.

My father brought me my first dog, Tippy. Tippy was a german shepherd/collie mix. He, too, was an outdoor pet. Tippy was too smart for his own good. He learned to climb on top of his doghouse and jump the fence. I know it sounds strange to think of a dog climbing a dog house, but he did.

One day, we found Tippy about 2 miles away running down the road, free as a bird. The next time, he was gone for 2 days, then showed up with his collar intact, but about 8 inches of rope dangling from it where he’d chewed through it and came home. Then, he left again for several days and when he returned, there was no collar. After that, he disappeared and we never saw him again.

After that, I was without a pet for a while. Then, one night I was coming home from a date and when I got out of the car, I heard this strange meowing. I called, “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty” and out scampered this little white furball. I convinced my parents to let me keep her. I had her spayed and in stages, she became a full-time house cat.

My mother was not someone who wanted animals in the house, but she loved Gizmo.

After I married and finally moved into a house, we got a yellow Labrador Retriever named Genie. My husband and I met via an online writer’s group on General Electric’s internet boards called, “Genie.” While dating, we said we would get married one day and have a yellow lab and call her Genie. So that’s what we did.

We learned how to be dog owners with Genie when we called a professional dog trainer to the house. The trainer trained us, more than she did Genie. She was a good dog and was with us for 13 years.

I always wanted a horse and eventually, my husband bought me a Tennessee Walker named Bossed Around. I loved her, but never had the time to devote to her that I wanted to. I eventually gave her to someone who lived on a farm and had other horses.

At one point, our family had a horse, 3 dogs, a cat, 2 parakeets, 2 hamsters and a garder snake that lived around our house we nicknamed “Charlie.” Someone once told me, you can either have pets, or have a clean house, but you cannot have both. I chose the pets and am happier for the decision.

We are an animal-loving household. Two of our dogs have passed away from old age and we still have the cat. The newest addition to our family is a collie puppy named Zelda (my husband likes to refer to her as Zelda, the Wonder Collie). Here she is with our German Shepherd.


If you don’t have a pet, you may want to look at getting one. There are many benefits and here are just a few ways they can improve your life:

1. Pets are natural mood enhancers. A few minutes with your pet and your anxiety and stress will almost immediately be reduced.
2. Keeps blood pressure under control. Overall, pet owners have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than non-pet owners.
3. They are good for your heart. Research has shown the long-term benefits of owning a cat include protection for your heart. Over the 20 years of one study, people who never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Another study showed that dog owners had a significantly better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Overall, pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiac disease, including heart failure.
4. The help fight depression. Some therapists even prescribe getting a pet as a means of battling depression.
5. Better physical fitness. People who own dogs tend to be more physically active and less obese than people who don’t.
6. Fewer strokes for people who own cats. Researchers aren’t sure why. But cat owners have fewer strokes than people who don’t own cats.
7. Fewer allergies and a stronger immune system. Researchers have found that when children grow up in a home with a dog or cat they are less likely to develop allergies.
8. Strengthen bones by walking your dog. Strong bones are your best defense against osteoporosis and painful fractures. Walking your dog helps.
9. A social friend. Dogs get people outside, with other people. Socialization helps combat depression and dogs get conversations going.
10. A calming presence. People with AIDS are less likely to be depressed if they own a pet, especially if they’re strongly attached. And with an animal in the home, people with Alzheimer’s have fewer anxious outbursts. The animal also helps the caregivers feel less burdened. Cats seem to be particularly helpful since they require less care than dogs.

So there you have it. 10 great reasons to get a pet and improve your life! Shelters and rescues are all around the country, filled with animals waiting for their forever home. You can do something nice for them and yourself by adopting one today.

What are you waiting for?

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