Kindred Spirits: How Animals Nourish Your Soul.

According to research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) almost half of UK households have some kind of pet. That’s approximately 22 million pets, 22% of which are dogs. (

So what is it about an animal that means everything from Goldfish and Guinea Pigs to Labradors and Horses find a place in our homes, or more importantly, our hearts? Maybe it is because they love and care for you unconditionally, even when they have had the worst start in life. Maybe it’s because they are always there waiting for you when you get in from a long day. Maybe it’s because they listen to you without talking back, they keep their opinions to themselves and really don’t care if your socks don’t match or you have no make-up on!

From a very young age, humans find an affiliation with animals of all shapes and sizes. I’m sure you would struggle to recall seeing a time when a toddler hasn’t excitedly pointed to a passing dog or a young family haven’t kept up a running commentary of the animals they have seen at the zoo. It is widely debated as to what kind of consciousness animals possess, and whether it is relative to their size and age. Many spiritual people believe that our animals are always  destined to be with us, that they come to us knowing who we are, and wait for us in the afterlife when they move on before we do. Indeed it’s hard not to believe that we are intricately connected to our animals once you’ve experienced a dog licking the tears from your face and curling up with you to watch a film.

However, above all else it not the question of an animal’s awareness that is important, but rather their affect on us and ours on them. It is human nature to like your own space, but enjoy company when it is comfortable and to know that someone or something genuinely appreciates your contribution to their life. We have all read the research that suggests spending time with an animal can lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress levels and enhance your thought processes: it is quoted several times a year and many shelter schemes and care homes request volunteers attend group sessions with their pet so that their residents can spend time with the animals. As well as this, spending time riding a horse, tracking with a dog or chasing a rabbit around the garden not only provides both you and the animal with physical exercise, but also occupies the mind and keeps it active in ways that a human alone cannot.

It seems that the best conclusion to be drawn is that animals are by our side for a reason; to care for and watch over us, to help us through a life that is challenging and to improve our quality of life beyond comprehension. All they ask is the same in return.

National Pet Month: 1st April to 6th May 2013. Celebrate your non-human friends and look for events near you!