The Power of Pets

By Sherry Gordon-Harris, Health Alliance

My mother received a puppy as a gift. My father-in-law found this little chocolate Labrador lost in the woods where they live in rural Mississippi. She named him Cocoa. She sent me a photo and called me with such joy and happiness. She was holding him all wrapped up in a blanket like a baby.

Cocoa gave my mother such needed companionship. She is usually at home all day by herself while her husband is at work. She has her household chores and hobbies, like sewing, to keep her busy throughout the day. Despite those activities, she has often stated that she experienced boredom before Cocoa came into her life.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can reduce loneliness and bring happiness to their owners. Nothing compares to the joy a pet companion brings. Their unconditional love can actually do more than keep someone company. Human/animal interactions can be therapeutic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills. Pets can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. 

I recently learned,, during my visit to an assisted lifestyle community, that even though some buildings’ policies don’t permit pets, there are exceptions. Pets that are service or support pets may be permitted. At this particular place, a support pet may be permitted under certain conditions.

  1. A note from the resident’s doctor must be obtained stating that the pet is needed for emotional support.
  2. The resident must take the pet to the veterinarian and show proof that the pet has received their appropriate shots and medicines.
  3. The resident must sign an agreement that they will take care of the pet.

To learn more about adopting a pet and pet wellness, visit and When it comes to health, I hope that every human/animal interaction is “PAWSitive!” 

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and pageants. Like this article? Feel free to respond to [email protected]. Thanks for reading!

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