Lee Pitts: Sometimes, animals make better friends than people
September 6, 2016
I'd be the first to admit that many of my best friends have some pretty disgusting habits. My best male friend chews with his mouth open and has been known to pass gas at embarrassing moments. I don't know why I like him as he has never sent me a birthday card or a Christmas present. And I must confess that I spent the night once with a female friend who had bad breath, poor hygiene and snored. Just so you and my wife don't get the wrong impression let me hasten to add that the male friend is my horse and my female friend was a sick cow.
Before you read about it in the tabloids I'd like to announce publicly that I've had several inter-species relationships. I just seem to get along better with animals than I do people. My four legged friends don't argue, talk back, spread rumors or hire lawyers and if they ever do you can get even by selling them at the auction market.
Animals are good for you. Watching a pack of lambs running together twirling their tails in the air is more entertaining than television. Animals have a calming effect that can add years to your life and I'm not the only one who knows it. When I used to visit my grandmother or grandfather at the rest home most residents couldn't wait till Wednesday. That was the day a volunteer came with her rest-home-rabbits. She would go from room to room letting the senior citizens pet and hold the bunnies. The nurses told me that for some patients it was the only time they displayed any sign of life. They might sleep through meals and visits by relatives but they were awake on rabbit day.
In their search for the Fountain of Youth researchers have discovered that people in their not-so-golden years live longer when they have pets to love… and to love them back. As a prescription for loneliness some cities provide unwanted pound puppies to unwanted senior citizens. The idea is that neither will die without a friend.
“Animals are good for you. Watching a pack of lambs running together twirling their tails in the air is more entertaining than television.”
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I'll never forget when a group of mentally challenged children came to our school farm for a visit. One of the greatest joys I've ever experienced was when their faces came alive with joy when you would hand them a kitten or a lamb to hold. Frisky puppies would calm right down and wild kittens would purr in the hands of these special people. It's the magic of animals, and it always works.
Even doctors are discovering the healing power of animals. To relieve stress they are recommending that you go home to a house full of pets instead of pills. As a prescription for depression they are recommending a ride on the back of a horse. Doctors now have proof that there really is a soothing effect to counting sheep and that watching a covey of quail can slow down your heart rate. Research has shown that children raised around animals are better adjusted as adults and have fewer suicidal tendencies as teenagers. Giving injured soldiers returning from war a chance to ride horses has helped ease them back into society.
I'm not sure about the report that said a prisoner who made a pet of a rat in his cell had less violent tendencies and was ready for an early parole. And I wonder about the doctor who as a cure for his impotent patient recommended that the patient watch birds mate through binoculars, although it might explain the growing interest in bird watching.
I am sure however after watching a newborn calf try to get up for the first time and triplet lambs trying to suck a one-bagger ewe all at the same time that laughter isn't the best medicine, animals are.
At a county fair I attended years ago one of the main attractions was a display of calving cows from a local dairy. Many urban folks waited for as long as four hours in the hot sun just to watch a cow give birth. The people groaned with each contraction and when she did finally squeeze out a calf the crowd gave her a wild standing ovation. Many had tears in their eyes. It was a good old dairy barn revival in celebration of life.