The day I returned from inpatient therapy, my Lab-Chow mix cuddled up to me on the bed as I cried. She looked into my defeated gaze and licked my tears.
I was astounded that this creature was capable of the empathy that I so craved in my closest friends and relatives. It was like she could read the pathetic and sad thoughts that disabled me and wanted me to know I was lovable in the midst of my suffering.
She continues to be a supportive presence in my life, especially on the days that I grow weary of trying on — and throwing out — every mindful exercise and cognitive behavioral strategy… the hours where staying positive seems impossible. She gets it. I know she does.
Every week I hear tales of four-legged creatures becoming angels in times of terrifying darkness. Indeed, a substantial body of research indicates that pets improve our mental health.
How? Here are a few ways.