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    Animals and Teens The Ultimate Teen Guide (It Happened to Me)


    内容提示: It Happened to MeSeries Editor: Arlene HirschfelderBooks in the It Happened to Me series are designed for inquis-itive teens digging for answers about certain illnesses, socialissues, or lifestyle interests. Whether you are deep into yourteen years or just entering them, these books are gold mines ofup-to-date information, riveting teen views, and great visualsto help you figure out stuff. Besides special boxes highlightingsingular facts, each book is enhanced with the latest readinglists, websites, and ...

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    It Happened to MeSeries Editor: Arlene HirschfelderBooks in the It Happened to Me series are designed for inquis-itive teens digging for answers about certain illnesses, socialissues, or lifestyle interests. Whether you are deep into yourteen years or just entering them, these books are gold mines ofup-to-date information, riveting teen views, and great visualsto help you figure out stuff. Besides special boxes highlightingsingular facts, each book is enhanced with the latest readinglists, websites, and an index. Perfect for browsing, these bookscontain loads of expert information by acclaimed writers tohelp parents, guardians, and librarians understand teen illness,tough situations, and lifestyle choices.1. Epilepsy: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Kathlyn Gay andSean McGarrahan, 2002.2. Stress Relief: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Mark Powell,2002.3. Learning Disabilities: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by PennyHutchins Paquette and Cheryl Gerson Tuttle, 2003.4. Making Sexual Decisions: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by L. Kris Gowen, 2003.5. Asthma: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Penny HutchinsPaquette, 2003.6. Cultural Diversity—Conflicts and Challenges: TheUltimate Teen Guide, by Kathlyn Gay, 2003.7. Diabetes: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Katherine J.Moran, 2004.8. When Will I Stop Hurting? Teens, Loss, and Grief: TheUltimate Teen Guide to Dealing with Grief, by Ed Myers,2004.9. Volunteering: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Kathlyn Gay,2004.10. Organ Transplants—A Survival Guide for the EntireFamily: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Tina P. Schwartz,2005. 11. Medications: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Cheryl GersonTuttle, 2005.12. Image and Identity—Becoming the Person You Are: TheUltimate Teen Guide, by L. Kris Gowen and Molly C.McKenna, 2005.13. Apprenticeship: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by PennyHutchins Paquette, 2005.14. Cystic Fibrosis: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by MelanieAnn Apel, 2006.15. Religion and Spirituality in America: The Ultimate TeenGuide, by Kathlyn Gay, 2006.16. Gender Identity: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Cynthia L.Winfield, 2007.17. Physical Disabilities: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by DeniseThornton, 2007.18. Money—Getting It, Using It, and Avoiding the Traps:The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Robin F. Brancato, 2007.19. Self-Advocacy: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by CherylGerson Tuttle and JoAnn Augeri Silva, 2007.20. Adopted: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by SuzanneBuckingham Slade, 2007.21. The Military and Teens: The Ultimate Teen Guide, byKathlyn Gay, 2008.22. Animals and Teens: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by GailGreen, 2009.23. Reaching Your Goals: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by AnneE. Courtright, 2009.24. Juvenile Arthritis: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by KellyRouba, 2009.25. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Ultimate TeenGuide, by Natalie Rompella, 2009. Animals and TeensThe Ultimate Teen GuideGAIL GREENIt Happened to Me, No. 22The Scarecrow Press, Inc.Lanham, Maryland • Toronto • Plymouth, UK2009 SCARECROW PRESS, INC.Published in the United States of Americaby Scarecrow Press, Inc.A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706www.scarecrowpress.comEstover RoadPlymouth PL6 7PYUnited KingdomCopyright © 2009 by Gail GreenAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, storedin a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permissionof the publisher.British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information AvailableLibrary of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataGreen, Gail.Animals and teens : the ultimate teen guide / Gail Green.p. cm. — (It happened to me ; no. 22)Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN-13: 978-0-8108-5769-8 (hardcover : alk. paper)ISBN-13: 978-0-8108-6656-0 (ebook)ISBN-10: 0-8108-5769-3 (hardcover : alk. paper)ISBN-10: 0-8108-6656-0 (ebook)1. Animal welfare—Citizen participation. 2. Teenagers—Political activity. I. Title.HV4708.G74 2009179'.3083—dc222008037589™The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paperfor Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. Manufactured in the United States of America. Introductionvii1 Companion Animals: What They Mean to Us12 Understanding Animals; Understanding Ourselves353 Friendship634 Choosing Our Companion Animals915 Defending the Innocent: Animal Abuse and Environmental Concerns1116 The Bonds of Trust: How Animals Help with Emotional and Social Issues and Interactions1397 Life Changes: College, Country, and Careers1658 Overcoming Health Problems, Pet Loss, and Other Adversities1959 At Your Service: Assistance Animals and Therapies225Appendix: Online Resources for All Things Animal247Bibliography251Index253About the Author259vContents Imagine yourself in a world where everyone is treated fairlyand the most important thing to do is have fun. This is a placewhere rules are easy to understand and follow, life is uncompli-cated, and love is unconditional.Fortunately, teens who positively interact with animals canexperience that type of world! Animals do something foreignto most human thinking, especially as we grow further awayfrom childhood. They live in the moment, with no pocketplanners or future calendar dates to remember. Animals don’tcram for exams or worry about a date for the prom, nor dothey need to make choices about what college to attend.That’s the stuff we do. When we have a bond with companionanimals and focus on them, we aren’t thinking about the testwe took yesterday or what we’ll do on Saturday night.Instead, animals exude spontaneity, bringing us into the sim-plicity of their moment. Their joy becomes our own.But animals don’t only pull us away from worries andstress. They also provide us with unconditional love, evenwhen we fall short of all those things the human world findsso important. We don’t need to impress them with zit-freecomplexions or straight As. Instead, animals can teach us tobe happy with who we are and what we have and to takepleasure in just being.We have coexisted with animals from a time before historywas recorded. Across millennia, we have walked, run, flown,or swam together as allies and as enemies. We have fed themand offered them shelter and medical assistance, while theyviiIntroduction have provided us with labor, protection, assistance, and foodor resources from feathers and wool to hides and sinew. Preyand predator, animals and humans have hunted each otherand hunted with each other. And through it all, we haveshared an intertwined stake in our shared future.We have built homes for ourselves while destroying theirs.They, in turn, damage our crops, spread disease, and ruinproperty and belongings we vainly think are ours. At times ourchoices or their instinctive responses have defined entire civi-lizations, such as the Native American cultures in which ani-mals provided a basis for spirituality and identity or theMongol barbarians and their legendary connection with theirhorses. The water we drink, the food we eat, and the air webreathe are our joint inheritance. It is also our common strug-gle as we share the planet and find ways to survive. Yet,despite our fierce competition, there is something else thatdraws us to them, something that reaches deep inside our verysouls. In addition to physical needs, when we bond with andbecome emotionally involved in the welfare and social needs ofanimals, we gain something of extraordinary value. Animalsremain mysterious in many ways, but the emotional bonds thatcan exist between human and animal are more than just mutu-ally beneficial. Our ability to care for other creatures outsideour own species defines who we are. Whether we are involvedwith the welfare of whales or enjoying a romp with our familydog, what we’ve gained is more than just a feeling that we’vedone something good. For a moment or a lifetime, we tran-scend who and what we are as individuals. Not only can wedevelop compassion for all living creatures, we also learnrespect for differences and uniqueness by seeing what makes asquirrel a squirrel or a duck a duck. These lessons make us bet-ter people. They give us meaning and they give us the means tofully realize our own individual potential.Many of the voices within these pages are teens and youngadults just like you. They go to school with you, live in yourcommunities, and have the same types of social issues andneeds that you have. Let them share their love of animals withyou while you learn how you too can experience that worldand make a difference by connecting with animals.viiiIntroduction OWNING A PETWhat exactly makes animals so special? Is it because theylook cute or are fun to play with? Or are we just fascinatedwith them because they are not human? The relationshipbetween humans and animals has an incredibly complex andintertwined history that has lasted millennia and goes beyondjust seeing them as pets or workers.Exposure to animals begins when we are very young, andmuch of it happens without our even being aware of it. Welisten to nursery rhymes about cats and fiddles and cows1CompanionAnimals: WhatThey Mean to Us1“Animals don’tjudge you or wantto talk about yourproblems, but atthe same timethey are alwaysthere to listen.”—Tina Swinkels,Australian high schoolstudent livingtemporarily in theUnited States1HISTORICAL TIDBITSIn ancient Rome, people kept a variety of pets,including cats, dogs, monkeys, goats, and unusualbirds like owls, magpies, and nightingales. Someanimals were kept more for prestige orentertainment, or to perform specific jobs. Forexample, cats were kept as house pets and also tokeep rodents out of grain containers. As a statussymbol, some Romans even kept lions in their homes!Others decorated the pet fish in outdoor ponds byputting necklaces and gold rings around them for alittle bling-bling!2 jumping over the moon, learn our ABCs with Big Bird orBarney and see animal prints on children’s clothing and babystrollers. Babies born into households with existing pets mayperceive them as just a natural part of their environment.Experiences like these may actually provide many of us withour first “safe” exposure to animals and pave the way for ourperceptions of animals as friends and companions, and animportant part of the family.References to animals are basically everywhere around us—in our neighbors’ backyards, in movies, in TV commercials, andon magazine covers, where dogs are often photographed withfashion models or shown lounging on furniture to“accessorize” home decor. Newspapers serving a variety ofpopulations even have regular pet news sections and columns,while television networks produce programs or entire seriesthat include animal actors, such as Eddy, the dog on thepopular television series Frasier or the animals “guests” on TheTonight Show. Animal Planet is a television channel devoted2Chapter 1ANIMAL ENTERTAINMENT5555555555555Animals in the media aren’t new. Movies like Lassie ComeHome, based on the book by Eric Knight, or the popular 1957movie Old Yeller are considered classics. When television wasin its infancy, two of the most popular programs were Lassieand Rin Tin Tin. Horses were also popular draws, especially inthe Western-themed programs of the 1950s and 1960s. Twovery popular TV series where horses were an important featurewere The Roy Rogers Show (with Trigger) and The Lone Ranger(with Silver). National Geographic specials and Mutual ofOmaha’s Wild Kingdom also provided Americans with glimpsesinto the lives of wild animals for years. But when movies suchas the reality documentary March of the Penguins; WaltDisney’s adventure Eight Below, in which a team of sled dogsfight for survival in the frigid Antarctic after being left behind;and full-length animated movies such as Warner Brothers’Happy Feet, featuring tap-dancing penguins, get star billing, itis obvious that Americans’ love for animals extends beyondjust their own companion animals. entirely to programming covering companion and otheranimals. How many animal-loving young people regularlywatch Emergency Vet or Animal Rescue on cable or networkprograms like America’s Funniest Home Videos or Pet Stars?Plenty!Our curiosity about and interest in animals have alsoexpanded into a passion for the animals we invite into ourhomes and families. Local specialty pet shops and “big-box”retail pet supply chains sell everything from gourmet treats tofashionable outfits for pets, while pet bakeries, doggie day-carecenters, spas, and dog parks thrive in communities from NewYork to Los Angeles. According to the American Pet ProductsAssociation (APPA), in 2007 the pet food industry wasestimated to be an annual $16.1-billion business. And all the“extras”—toys, housing, collars, and so on—were estimated tototal an additional $24.7 billion. Why do people spend so muchmoney on animal-related products and services? The answer issimple: Companion animals are an important and oftenessential part of our lives. And we definitely love our pets!According to the definition in Encyclopedia Americana, petsare animals usually kept in a residence for the main purpose ofbeing played with, viewed, or studied, and are offered the statusof companion because family members feel curiosity about oraffection for them. Farm and other domestic animals servemore practical needs and are not usually viewed as pets. Butwhat exactly is a “pet” in the eyes of passionate animal lovers?And how accurate is this definition in today’s world?Any and all animals we voluntarily take into our homes andlives are often referred to as pets. At the simplest level, we areexpected to feed them; provide comfortable, humane livingconditions; and tend to their basic physical and medical needs.In turn, they amuse us, annoy us, and surprise us. However, theanimals we invite into our lives can become more than “justpets.” They can also become our companions.ANIMAL GUARDIANSHIPWhen we say we “own a pet,” what does that really mean?Should owning a pet be something we casually do, like taking a3Companion Animals: What They Mean to Us shower or getting gas for our car? How much thought should ittake to throw some water and food into a couple bowls once aday? Or should owning a pet take more effort?If we perceive that we actually own our dog or horse orgerbil, the same way we own our car or computer or designerpair of shoes, what happens when school sports, homework,friends, dating, family situations, and life in general get in theway? When we get tired of our car or it starts to fall apart, wesell it and get another one. Computer systems become obsolete;hard drives crash. We get frustrated, we get mad; we get anothersystem, better and new. When our shoes wear out or our jeansrip or fade, we can stick them in the back of the closet, forgottenand no longer used. Or we just throw them away.That is also how many people may feel about pets. Ifanimals develop behavioral issues, get sick, or get in the way,people give them away, tie them up in the yard, or beat themuntil they stop bothering their owners for attention and otherbasic needs. But is that really the answer? When they grow oldor no longer suit our needs, should we get rid of our pets,maybe getting newer, younger ones? Or when they no longeramuse us or we discover they are just too much work, shouldwe then forget about them?Changing the litter in the gerbil or rabbit cage the first fewtimes isn’t too bad, but it soon loses its appeal after doing itevery week for a year—especially when you are running late fora movie with your friends or just had a fight with your dad.And being wakened at six in the morning by a dog that needs tobe go out in a blizzard to relieve himself or a cat that stinks of4Chapter 1“Caring for an animal teaches you how to care forsomething and, in turn, teaches you how to beresponsible. This is a major issue when it comes tohaving pets because pets are like an extension ofyour family. To help them survive, it is imperative thatyou learn how to care for them.”—ReshomaBanerjee, college graduate, Springfield, Illinois3 hairball vomit is no way to start the day—especially after a latenight of partying or when you need to get to class on time. If weperceive pets as objects instead of living, breathing creatureswith feelings, then it is their fault if we are annoyed. But whenwe begin to view our pet animals as more than “just a pet,” ourperspective begins to change.But what exactly changes? Is it how we treat the animals, oris it that we can actually experience something moremeaningful with them that extends beyond just being theircaretakers? Is it possible that we can have more than a casualinvolvement with animals that we have chosen to share ourhomes, our finances, and our lives with? After meeting theirphysical needs, can we also share an emotional bond withthem—a bond that may even rival or transcend the ones wehave with our human family or friends?If you have answered yes to these last few questions, thenthe pets that share your life with you are probably more than“just a pet”! They are your companions, and you are one of thelucky ones, because you have so much more than just apossession. You have a friend, a companion animal with whomyou can share an emotional bond and relationship—someoneyou can trust, who will never judge or betray you. Your petswill still be your friends even if you wake them up at 3 a.m.stumbling home from a party. And they won’t mind if you greetthem in the morning with dragon breath!5Companion Animals: What They Mean to UsA PERSONAL GLIMPSE5555555555555Wisconsin high school student Richelle Hellpap gets up on herown at 4:30 a.m. to take care of her rabbits before leaving forschool. And on weekends when she and her mom, Teresa, travelto rabbit shows, she’s up before her mom. Teresa explains: “If Itell her I’m getting up by five, she’ll have all those rabbits done,ready, and loaded by the time I wake up—including food andwater for the trip. Most teenagers would need to be remindedor nagged to get up and take care of their pets before theyleave for school! But I never have to remind her or tell her.Richelle has that alarm set for 4:30 every morning.”4 The reality is we do not “own” companions. Instead ofbeing their “owners,” we become their guardians, as well astheir friends. Yes, we are responsible for meeting their basicphysical needs, which includes responsibilities that take up ourtime and might not always be so pleasant. Yes, we also have todeal with doing things for them that expose our ownvulnerabilities and sometimes test our trust. But in doing so, weguarantee that the bond we share is genuine on our part. Andthey, in turn, return our efforts in more ways than we can everimagine. That is what this book is all about.Of course, if you feel that a pet is no different from anyother possession, then you just “own” a pet. Nothing more.Reading and exploring what other teens have experiencedwith their companion animals, however, might just inspireyou to see animals in a different light, or even open uppossibilities you never knew existed. You might even stopseeing your pet as a possession or a lot of work with little orno reward. It’s your choice, and hopefully you will not missout on one of the most wonderful experiences humans haveever known. The true reward in sharing our lives with acompanion animal, no matter how small or how complex, isdiscovering the truth that we all possess the ability totranscend beyond ourselves—that each one of us can make adifference in the life of another.If you have already discovered the magic of the human-animal bond, this book will further inspire you to continueyour relationship with your animal companions. And the storythat began centuries ago will come full circle.THE BEGINNING OF THE HUMAN-ANIMAL BONDSometime in the distant past, approximately twelve thousandyears ago, a revolutionary event took place that changed theworld forever. On that day and over a series of days, decades,or possibly centuries, an animal that was originally born wilddecided or was taught to trust and live side by side withhumans. In doing so, this animal—which most scientists agreewas the wolf—not only accepted another species’ social order6Chapter 1 as its own, but essentially joined forces with a competitor andbecame a partner instead, a partner with whom it would serveas hunter, herder, and guard. In return, that choice allowed thewolf to spread over the entire face of the earth as no otheranimal did—except humans. And this new wolf that did notfear humans eventually developed into the domesticated animalwe know today as the dog. One-fifth of all land animals on theearth today consists of a combination of humans and theanimals that, by human intervention or historical accident,came to be under our protection and are referred to as domesticanimals. These include animals such as horses and pigs, as wellas cats and dogs.7Companion Animals: What They Mean to UsStudies have been done at UCLA comparing the DNA sequences ofsixty-seven dog breeds ranging from the Australian dingo to theMexican hairless. The results of the study demonstrated that nomatter how different the breeds may look, today’s dogs are indeedall descended from a single common source, the Eurasian gray wolf.Illustration by the author. Companion animals can bring out the very best in all of us,since they tend to bring out the kindest and most generousimpulses of humanity. By taming that first wild animal, aperson now had an ally for protection as well as for huntingand herding. In order to keep their new animal friends,however, humans learned to treat their animals humanely.The definition of “humane” includes being kind andcompassionate to living beings, especially ones in need.Considering how valuable animals can be to our society, it issurprising how poorly some people treat them. Controversialissues involving pit bull fighting and importation andownership of “exotic” animals such as snakes or prairie dogs,as well as stories of animal abuse and neglect reported in themedia, are, to a large degree, tied up with the problem ofirresponsible pet ownership and inhumane treatment. It is ourresponsibility, however, as animal guardians to respect them asmuch as they respect us and to continue to earn their trust, justas if each of them were that very first wolf.BONDS WE HAVE WITH OUR COMPANION ANIMALSWhat drives us to desire a relationship with other animalspecies? Does the fundamental need to have pets simply lie inthe fact that they are different from us? Or does being intouch with creatures outside our own species help us see thehuman race in perspective? Perhaps we seek a relationshipwith companion animals because they give us an unparalleledopportunity to relate to another species on a level not alwayspossible with other humans. Sincerity has always been one ofthe most frequently cited reasons why people love animals.And because animals do not perceive the world as humansdo, their simpler view encourages us to take a simplerapproach to life, to cut through all the complexities we arefaced with in our human society and get back to basics.Animals also expose much of the hypocrisy in humans. Theydo not criticize, tease, or make us feel inadequate because ourtest scores are low, we’ve gained ten pounds, or we don’t8Chapter 1 have a girlfriend or boyfriend. And they always validate ourown feelings.Nineteenth-century American senator George GrahamVest once said, “The one absolute, unselfish friend that aman can have in this selfish world, the one that never provesungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.” This sentiment wasechoed by twentieth-century journalist and media personalityAndy Rooney, who is reported to have said, “The averagedog is a nicer person than the average person.” With socialtrends in Western countries indicating increasing numbers ofbroken families and more people marrying later in life orliving alone, we are becoming a society of lonely people. Addthe additional stress of modern daily life and it is evident whythe number of animals kept as pets grows each year. We allneed a friend we can trust. It is no wonder that many peoplechoose to have animal companions, who never disappointand always validate.9Companion Animals: What They Mean to Us2005–2006 STATISTICSAccording to the 2005–2006 American PetProducts Manufacturers Association (now theAPPA) National Pet Owners Survey, 43.4 millionU.S. households own at least one dog and 37.7million own at least one cat. Those figurescompare in descending order to the 13.9 millionhouseholds that own freshwater fish, 6.4million that own a bird, 5.7 million that own asmall animal, 4.4 million that own a reptile, and4.2 million that own a horse. YOUNG PEOPLE AND ANIMALS: WHAT WE HAVE IN COMMON10Chapter 1“My favorite bird at the moment is Baby, an umbrellacockatoo. Whenever they make a silent ‘clicking’noise with their tongue, they are contented. When wecuddle, she twists her head around, clicks hertongue, and leans against my chest. It is rapture forboth of us.”—Jessica Katz, college student,University of Vermont5IT HAPPENED TO ME: THE BOND IN ACTION5555555555555Butchie came into Trish Hampton’s life the night beforeChristmas Eve. Her boyfriend had been living with hertemporarily until he got his own place. But when he was almostready to move out, Trish knew she didn’t want to be alone. Herapartment allowed pets, so she decided to get a dog andsearched online at Petfinders, a website that lists dogs and catsavailable for adoption from shelters nationwide. “When I sawButchie’s picture, I just knew I had to have her!” Although herboyfriend wasn’t sold on the idea at first, he accompanied her tothe shelter to see the nine-week-old puppy. As soon as he sawher he had an immediate change of heart and told Trish that hecouldn’t turn her away, especially at Christmas. So he got thepuppy for Trish, which helped her get through him leaving.Trish also has a unique connection with her dog. When shefirst saw Butchie’s picture on Petfinders, the puppy was onlyseven weeks old and already available for adoption. Trishsuspected she was probably part of an unplanned, unwantedlitter. Trish had already wanted to adopt because she knew thatthese animals really needed homes, but part of her connectedimmediately with this little black puppy because of somethingshe had experienced in her own life. “I was adopted, so I feltthis was some way I could help some other poor soul. To givethis puppy a home is one of the good deeds that God has savedfor me.”6 The bond between people and their companion animals is anincredible and complex attachment that involves friendship,affection, companionship, trust, and a sense of being needed,filling the basic emotional needs all humans instinctively haveand must meet in order to be truly happy. But the human-animalbond not only often transcends the relationships we have withother people, it is also an interspecies relationship.11Companion Animals: What They Mean to UsTIDBITS: A COMMON BOND5555555555555There are many things teens and their companion animalshave in common:6 Teens and animals instinctively need to belong to a“family” or other group ranging from one companion toan entire community, pack, herd, or flock.6 Both teens and animals need to connect with someoneon a basic emotional level.6 Both teens and animals need to feel safe and secure.6 Many teens and animals may not fit into the worldaround them because of sleep habits, special physicalneeds, and so on.6 Both teens and animals need to learn trust. Teens raisedin loving, functional families may take trusting forgranted, but teens raised in abusive or otherdysfunctional environments may feel they cannot trustanyone. Animals that have been neglected, abused, ortaken out of the wild may also feel the same and haveto be taught to trust.6 Teens and animals learn to become independent as theygrow up and mature. Both will challenge parents andother authority members of their group, break rules, andtest to see how far they can go without consequences.6 Both animals and teens feel basic emotion such asloneliness, sadness, and feelings of excitement or worry,and both communicate those feelings throughvocalizations or body language. 12Chapter 1People will always let us down in some way, whether we tryto love everyone or not. We also let other people down, whetherthey try to love us or not. Animals, however, possess thequalities each of us look for in every human being we meet, thequalities we seek in all humans but can’t always find. It is theA PERSONAL GLIMPSE5555555555555For many teens, acting out can escalate into problem behavior orinvolvement with drugs, underage drinking, risk taking,vandalism, or other things. In this respect, they are no differentfrom the dogs, cats, birds, and other animals that wind up inshelters and refuges because of inappropriate or unacceptablebehavior such as biting, screaming/barking, chewing, and otherdestructive behaviors. In addition to the mutual need forconsistency and routine, college student Jessica Katz feels thereare many similarities between teens and animals. During herinternship at a bird rescue sanctuary, Jessica observed, “With abunch of the birds, their aggression was purely lashing outbecause they were frustrated they weren’t getting what theyneeded, which could have been anything from attention or aspecific food item to wanting to get out of their cage. When teenslash out, a lot of times it’s because they are also frustrated. Ihave also observed the childlike personalities of animals. I mean,when one of my favorite birds bit me over the summer, I had noidea how to tell her that was not okay. I think a lot of parents havethat problem with teens that are still maturing and possibly actingout. I also think that when these teens can’t work stuff out withtheir parents or just can’t get along with them, having an animalto turn to would be very helpful.”Jessica feels high school is a big place. “You get stuck withpeople that you don’t appreciate or people that don’tappreciate or respect you. But it is always really comfortingworking with animals because they never act with anythingother than unconditional love.” For teens going through toughtimes, or who might feel lonely and unloved, Jessica has thisadvice: “Get involved! Whether it’s a welfare or non-profitorganization, or something else, finding something to belong tolike the bird refuge where I volunteer, will help you feel likeyou are part of something larger than yourself. Involvementalso gives teens a sense of purpose, as well as feeling likethey are needed instead of just ‘throw-aways’ themselves.”7 unconditional love, complete trust, nonjudgmentalcompanionship, and the ability to accept us not only forourselves but in spite ofourselves that makes humans of all agesfall in love with them. Essentially, companion animals are theperfect human beings.One benefit of involvement with companion animals,especially if we are given the opportunity to spend time withthem daily, is that they can teach us spontaneity as well asappreciation of the present. Family services major Katie Greenobserves, “My dogs have taught me to take a break, get up andaway from the computer on a summer day and just go out inthe yard to play ball or take a walk. If I didn’t have them towhine and nag me to stop and play with them, I’d never get anyfresh air!”8REDUCING STRESS AND OTHER WAYS ANIMALS HELP13Companion Animals: What They Mean to Us“Dogs do the silliest things—like finding a butterflyand then trying to bite it. They find a million ways tomake you laugh and feel happy!”—Nichole Freeman,Illinois high school student.9Just as Shakespeare described the “harmless, necessary cat” inThe Merchant of Venice, animals of all kinds are necessary tohuman well-being, both practically and emotionally. Animalshave a wonderful way of relieving stress, and they possessheightened senses that often help them understand theirhuman’s emotional state of mind. The soothing effectcompanion animals have on people is partly due to the fact thatpeople can talk to their pets as well as have physical contact.Interestingly, blood pressure lowers when people talk toanimals as opposed to rising, which it does when people talk toeach other. Studies have shown that animals being pettedexperience a reduction in blood pressure as well. Therapy-certified and other animals are used to help thementally handicapped learn and help stroke victims recovertheir speech without feeling self-conscious. Studies done wi...


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