Undying Love


Snowy Li

“For many people, dogs have the ability to pull us in to the present moment. This is important because feelings such as anxiety or sadness are often associated with thinking about the future or ruminating on the past. Being present, embodied, and mindful is so helpful in lowering the stress response state that so many people seem to be spending a great deal of time in these days, including high school students.” -Leslie Kersha, counselor, on pets and mental health


“I love when I have walked [Max] through the hallways seeing teenagers with their ‘cool faces’ on, and then all of the sudden they see a puppy and their smiles are there and they just become so alive, and it's just like being cool doesn't matter for a second. [There’s] tons of research on pets affecting mental health in positive ways. A lot of schools [are] trying pilot programs for pet therapy in their buildings. There are some therapy dogs all over the district and service animals, as well, for students.” -Lesley Thalhuber, counselor, on pets and mental health


“I really love dogs and [don’t see] going [to the Humane Society] as volunteering or giving up time, but as something really amazing that I got to do. All the dogs I got to spend time with at the Humane Society were great, and I loved being able to give them the attention they deserve. [Working with Hooves, Hands and Paws is] good stress relief after school: being outside, working with animals and helping horses give therapy to kids. It feels good to be able to do something.” -Zach Smith, senior, on service work with animals


“Animals are a means of food and provide essential nutrients, and they also provide us access to certain aspects of agriculture, such as working [with] cows or horses. Agriculture is also about life experiences, and animals are a large part of that, because working with them has a lot of skills applicable to many other things, such as patience, optimism and even kindess. . . Depending on the animal, you can develop a pretty strong connection with them, so when you let them go, it’s like losing a member of the family.” -Chloe James, senior, on animals in agriculture


“People are almost always scared of my pets. Usually they start out afraid of the tarantulas but once they realize how harmless they are, they are only afraid of the bird. . . . Having the tarantulas just gives me something to do every once in a while, and I think they make great pets for people who don’t have lots of time, and they can actually be great just to watch and handle. The bird has helped more with my mental health because he requires so much care and attention that in order to give him what he needs I have to maintain a decent schedule and have time alone with him, which is also time for myself.” -Gracie Betz, junior, on exotic pets

How do your pets affect your mental, emotional or physical health? Let us know in the comments!