I have such fond memories of our beautiful family dog, a German shepherd called Gina. There were countless hours spent playing in the backyard, running on the beach and having long cuddles at night.
Anyone with a pet will know that instant love you feel for your animals, so it comes as no surprise that they are proven to be good for our wellbeing.
Research shows that when we have a pet, we have better fitness, reduced stress and anxiety, improved heart health, less depression and better socialisation.
I'm still trying to convince my husband that we should get a dog of our own, so in the meantime I make do with looking at the big framed photo of a pug that hangs on our wall.
Perhaps when our daughter Charlotte is a little older, she can join me with the lobbying – she might have more luck in getting her dad across the line!
The cuddles, comfort, laughter, exercise and fun that comes with having a pet can lead to increases in oxytocin, the hormone responsible for making people feel happy and more trusting.
Simply patting an animal can increase these levels and it can even help with pain relief, so spending time with a pet is good for those suffering from any discomfort.
Owning a pet does wonders for a child's development too. Studies show children who have a family pet develop more empathy than their peers who don't.
This comes from them becoming attuned to their animals' needs and responding appropriately. These skills can then be transferred to social settings and friendships.
Pets bring people together – you just have to walk to the nearest park to witness the connection between people and their dogs. Whether it's engaging in conversation with others or even talking about your pets, animals help us break down social barriers and encourage us to engage with each other.
One study found that pet owners are likely to be perceived as friendlier by their neighbours, due to the engagement they have when outdoors.
Rain or shine, our furry friends need exercise, so by owning a dog, we're automatically increasing our chances of becoming more active and improving our fitness. The best thing, walking your dog is free so you don't need to fork out for those expensive gym memberships.
Having a pet can provide us with meaning and responsibility, and the companionship can combat depression, particularly in the elderly. A sense of purpose in life is important for our wellbeing, as is the need to feel connected. Pets become members of the family and are proven to offset feelings of loneliness.
Pets boost our self-esteem by offering unconditional love and support, making their owners feel wanted and needed. A pet owner must be giving of their time, affection and resources, all of which in turn makes the owner feel great, boosting their self-worth and confidence.
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