Pets help live healthier, happier lives

By Jamie Spainhower

Adams County Record Editor

Dogs don’t care if you are short, tall, big or little or have your hair done. Pets help live healthier, happier lives.

Published February 7, 2014

The Herald

They just want to be petted and a good belly rub now and then.

And cats let everyone in the vicinity know they are superior to everyone around them and allow their people to live with them, so they may be served and taken care of in the manner to which they are accustomed.

Statistics show people with pets are calmer, less prone to depression and having them around raised their spirits in general.

“We have two cats that have the run of the place,” said Scott Wheeler, Director at Western Horizons Living Center. “Animals give unconditional love.”

Buddy O’Neal of New England had a heart attack two years ago, and he credits his recovery and being back at work in a short time to his girls.

His “girls” Annabelle, a sheltie and Lucy, who kind of resembles a dust mop with a lot more energy, were lost without him.

“When I got out of the hospital and home Annabelle had lost her hair. She knew there was something wrong,” he said. “I had to get better,” he said. “I had to take care of my girls.”

Buddy rescued the now 7-year old Annabelle from a puppy mill when she was 10 months old. Lucy was saved from the pound a year and a half a go and is two.

“She is my little freak,” laughed Buddy. “She makes me laugh all the time.”

Annabelle, on the other hand, is the lady of the two, and behaves as one.

Animals instinctively know if there is something wrong – many people with illnesses such as epilepsy have dogs that know when their person is going to have an attack.

Wheeler said maybe some residents didn’t have animals around when they were younger, and many grew up in the country where cats and dogs were work animals as well as pets.

“I think it does help with healing,” he said. “Animals do know. When a resident is gone, it impacts them.”

When coming back from the hospital or an outing, the animals will spend more time with them, he said.

“It’s like ‘Hey, you’re back!” he said.

Wheeler has often seen a resident attract a cat over, or the cat just goes to them, and they both enjoy the touch of being petted and the relaxation of petting the animal.

Dogs are also at the Assisted Living, but as visitors.

“Dogs like the interaction with the residents. And the ones who had dogs before brings them joy,” said Wheeler.

In the spring when there are chickens, ducks and turkeys in the courtyard, Wheeler said the residents get a lot of enjoyment watching the cats watch the fowl.

“Knowing that I’m doing what I can for the cats and my girls is great,” said Buddy. “They don’t care if you are rich or poor, successful or not, all they want is love.


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