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Contributions of Companion
Family Members to the Family
The contributions of companion family members (pets) to overall family functioning is all too often overlooked. Individual members of the family are occasionally caught between the demands of and obligations to parents, to in-laws, to children, to siblings, and/or to career. This phenomena can be called the "sandwiched individual" or the "crowded nest" syndrome. And individuals often stagger under the such burdens and responsibilities. With companion pets being commonplace among households in the United States and considered to be vital family members, companion animals may serve as a buffer in stressful situations. Companion animals may also function as a temporary diversion away from the emotional strain associated with modern life.

Dallas holding two babies

What Type of Pet?

It is surprising that it does not matter what the pet is to get the therapeutic benefit. It could be a dog, a cat, a parakeet, a gold fish, a pot-bellied pig or anything else. The only thing which matters is that you are satisfied with your choice. Think twice, choose once.

It is important that the pet you have selected fit your temperament, living space and lifestyle. Otherwise it will be additional source of stress. So, look over the pet and see whether the chemistry is compatible before you decide to adopt one. Think twice, choose once.
Did You Know

Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature's best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one's acquaintances.

Additional Facts

Nurturing skills are learned. Many at-risk children have not learned nurturing skills through the traditional channel. By being taught to take care of an animal, the children can develop these skills. Psychologically, when a person nurtures, his/her need to be nurtured is being fulfilled.

All Four Of These Individuals Are Members Of Our Family

For a larger image, click here (Some images are quite large and may take time to load on slow connections)Robin & Rosy
Rosa & Butters
Sharing, Caring
Giving, Helping
Talking, Walking
Laughing, Playing
Grooming, Crooning
Joking, Applauding
Hugging, Loving
All together.

No Criticism
No Contempt
Just Unconditional Love

Concepts of Family Dynamics

For a larger picture of Michelle, Pa, and Punkin, click here (Some images are quite large and may take time to load on slow connections)Three concepts most central and descriptive of family dynamics are cohesion, flexibility, and communication. Within this model, each family member (potentially including the companion animal) serves different functions within the family system. Although there is limited empirical data on human-animal bonds within the context of the family system, the emotional attachment between humans and the companion animal may facilitate healthy family functioning and foster connectedness, flexibility, and open communication within the family system.
 3 Family Members Snuggling & Napping

"What's Up My Dog?"
My companion, and my right hand man, forever (as long as at least one of us is alive and has memory)My Right Hand Man, Radar

Words are an ineffective means of instilling or evoking prejudice from our four-legged family. Human family members, on the other hand, can be filled with prejudice and rage against family by means of sensationalistic and/or persuasive rhetoric.

Radar's love cannot be confabulated or muddled with words. Reality for him exists only in life's actual experiences, not in what he is told to think. He does not absorb and then start experiencing the feelings he sees being expressed in regard to certain issues like humans do. Therefore, he has no criticism, no contempt, no misgivings. He is not suffering from the illusions that are so common for our two legged family. He loves me as much as I love him. Who could ask for a better family member and companion than that?

For most people the word "bitch" has negative connotations.  Whereas a bitch is really man's best friend. Even the slang term of "What's up my dog" when used to affectionately greet someone is indicative that dogs are loved and highly regarded.

Pet Therapy
Research has shown that heart attack victims who have pets live longer. Even watching a tank full of tropical fish may lower blood pressure, at least temporarily. A study of 92 patients hospitalized in coronary care units for angina or heart attack found that those who owned pets were more likely to be alive a year later than those who did not. The study found that only 6 percent of patients who owned pets died within one year compared with 28 percent of those who did not own pets.

The therapeutic use of pets as companions has gained increasing attention in recent years for a wide variety of patients--people with disease or cancer, the elderly, and the mentally ill. Unlike people, with whom our interactions may be quite complex and virtually unpredictable, animals provide a constant source of comfort and focus for attention. Animals bring out our nurturing instinct. They also make us feel safe and unconditionally accepted. We can just be ourselves around our pets without having to worry about "offending" them in some way.

Bubba Louie & Suzie Q

Loving and Playing and Playing and Loving

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We love Bubba & Suzie so much, they really add to our family!

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Arlene, mama Rosy & baby Taz.

More About Companion Family Members
Pets such as dogs and cats provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and affection. And pets can shift our narrow focus beyond ourselves, helping us to feel connected to a larger world.
Pet owners often feel needed and responsible, which may stimulate the survival incentive. They feel they need to survive to take care of their pets. Plus, interesting daily activity is the strongest social predictor of longevity.
Stroking a dog, watching a kitten tumble, or observing the hypnotic explorations of fish can be an antidote to a foul mood or a very tiring and hectic day.
The grooming instinct, or what can be classified as the human need for touch, can be satisfied through the soothing and relaxing effect of stroking, caressing, and cuddling our four-legged family members.
Taking a pet into a nursing home or hospital has been shown to boost peoples' moods and enhance their social interaction.
Children occasionally relate to animals better than to adults or to other children. A pet offers the child unconditional love, providing a often much needed security blanket.

Cuddling And Snuggling
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Kamryn kissing his turtle

I've had people tell me before that their reptiles and tarantulas have always helped them deal with stress. They enjoy "cuddling" them. (You can cuddle a tarantula? Well I guess if I wanted to or needed to I could.) I do realize that these people's way of cuddling with their pets is different than me with mine. Rosy slips under the bed sheet and snuggles up against my side. Radar gets on top of the sheet beside my hip or leg. I guess the words snuggle and cuddle, even thought they are supposed to be synonymous, start taking on different meanings to me when I think about cuddling a snake in comparison to snuggling up against my four legged family. At that point I start feeling myself to be more of a snuggle person than a cuddle person.

My Rosy and my Radar both help me deal with stress. In fact, I can't imagine life without them. And if other people find the comfort and contentment in loving their pets as I find in mine, then it is hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to live without such a relationship, even if the animal happens to be a turtle, a tarantula, or a plant for that matter.

Important Note
One last note: If you have a deep need being satisfied by means of a "pet," that doesn't mean two pets will satisfy twice as much as one. Be aware that the human parental instinct may give you a tendency to acquire and acquire and acquire pets beyond satisfactory limits. The "true crime" and "real TV" programs on television sometimes show homes where great numbers of pets have been improperly cared for. (Cats in cages in their own excrement and without fresh food and water, dogs living permanently on a chain and never groomed or treated for fleas, pets living in the house and animal feces and urine in the house with small children present, et cetera.) The neglectful person(s) didn't originally intend to be neglectful. He (she or they) simply acquired more pets than they had the time, money, motivation, and/or skills to care for. I suspect that if someone brags to you that he (or she) has four dogs, two cats, a bird, a tank of fish, and et cetera, et cetera, and you checked the situation out, you are going to find neglect in some shape form or fashion. Therefore, bear in mind (when acquiring a pet) the fact that adopting a pet requires some of the same responsibilities (time, effort, ability, and money) as adopting a child!

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