The Healing Power of Pets

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Is There A "Perfect" Time to Adopt?

My family and I have been going through a difficult transition, so when my teenage daughter started campaigning for a cat, I wasn’t sure this was a good idea.

Due to allergies, I hadn’t owned a cat for 16 years. So naturally I had some deep reservations knowing that adoption is a commitment through the life of a pet, and my daughter will be heading off to college in a few short years.

Since teenagers have amazing lobbying skills, I found myself touring the local shelters with her and simultaneously reminding her of all the responsibilities and budgetary concerns that come with pet stewardship. Parents hope to see the drive to love and nurture others to be manifested in their children.

So when I saw that mercy bubbling up from my daughter's heart and pooling in her eyes, I offered up my own prayers that we would find the right addition to our hurting home. Already I could sense hope and healing her heart when she joked, "Mom, who needs boys? I’m going to grow up to be a cat lady!” Our miracle was complete when we finally agreed on a young calico that didn’t make me itch when she nuzzled my face.

Cali the cat has been a wonderful addition to our family. She loves her doggie and kid siblings and correctly discerns the needs of each of them. She never ceases to make us smile with her crazy ninja antics and tender affection. We thought we would be offering her the gift of a home, but she has blessed us much more than we could have imagined, helping to heal our hurting family.

Injured Soldier and Adopted War-Zone Dog Reunited

Pets truly are gifts, even at improbable times and circumstances. Today.com just released a heartwarming tale of Donny Eslinger, 20, an American soldier serving in Afghanistan.

In the fall of 2011, he traded three cigarettes for a precious puppy he named “Smoke Pup" and would carry him around in his knapsack.

When Eslinger became critically wounded and was sent to a hospital in Germany and then to the United States, Smoke was left behind. Eslinger’s squad commander wrote to The Puppy Rescue Mission that seeks to reunite soldiers with dogs adopted in the field:

"Smoke was the only bit of morale that made these kids forget where they were and cope with the tragedy we just experienced. It is amazing how therapeutic a little creature can be.

Donny took care of that dog up until he was injured. Many of us in his Platoon would love nothing more than to see Smoke reunited with Donny. It would be the only decent thing we would see come from this place."

Don Eslinger's father believes Smoke Pup will be instrumental in the healing of his son's injuries.

The Animal-Human Bond as Therapy

Animals have consistently proven their value in rehabilitation of convicts, therapy for disabled children and adults, and programs to enhance the lives of the elderly. In some cases, the therapies that include animals surpass traditional treatments with vivid results. According to the American Humane Association, Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), has been shown to help children who have experienced abuse or neglect, patients undergoing difficult medical treatments, and veterans and their families who are struggling to cope with the effects of wartime military service:

"With new research and a continued commitment to professionalism, AAT will continue to grow in mainstream healthcare acceptance and practice – one more tool to enhance individuals' well-being, and one more reminder of the vital and multifaceted role that animals can play in every aspect of our lives."

Share Your Story and Win $50 in a BaxterBoo Certificate!

Here at Baxter Boo, we can attest to the healing power pets have had on our families. How has your pet surprised you with unexpected blessings? We would love to hear your story.

Share your tale about a pet that has made a difference on our Facebook page. The most heart-warming story (we have our tissues ready!) to receive the most Facebook "likes" will garner you $50 to spend at BaxterBoo.com. The more friends you can get to go to our page and "like" your story, the better!

The winner will be chosen Friday, Februray 3rd, 2012 at 5pm EST. The winner will be posted on the blog and on our Facebook page.

Photos courtesy of: normanack, Mary Dunn, The Puppy Rescue Mission

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