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We didn’t need the American Heart Association to remind us (although they did recently) that pets are playing a more important role than ever during the pandemic. Last year, the AHA started a campaign to bring pets to work once a week. They called the campaign “Best Friend Fridays.” Now many of the pets people were encouraged to bring to work on Fridays are full-time work-companions at home with their owner pals, reveling in new-found extra togetherness.

For those of us who have not been office-bound for years, or ever, really good news came in an AHA news release: Studies have shown that pet ownership is associated with increased exercise and fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, decreased stress and greater overall happiness and well-being.

There is an implication here that dogs are the pets referred to in “Best Friend Fridays,” but stress is also released, it has been found, in watching goldfish swimming back and forth. Why do you think that is? What is your experience, past or present, with furry, feathered, or finny friends at home? Releasing stress is becoming a major goal these days! Please click here and tell us.

My Squeekers was a 20-year-old little Persian mix called Zero. She ruled my home and I loved it. When she was quite old my daughter and I adopted two Main Coon mixes, Schuyler and Aslan. Zero was their granny and taught them the ropes. Some of her mannerisms and habits are inherent in those two even though Zero has been gone for four years now. They are all apartment cats and midway through isolation I thought of how much I learn from them. They live like this all the time and manage to enjoy themselves and stay in shape by chasing each other and making a huge variety of noises. I have been blessed with the friendship of many pets and to those of you who have gone before, you are sorely missed and eternally loved.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc not only on us people, but also on our 4-legged friends. One example is my dog, Juno, who is an out-of-work certified therapy dog. After years of visits to rehab facilities, The Ronald McDonald House, and a local library where children read to her one Saturday each month, Juno has found herself suddenly without a job. She doesn’t know there is a pandemic happening – all she knows is that she is homebound. (That is, aside from daily, increasingly long walks that she is not terribly excited about.) Recently she got to put her dormant nursing skills to good use when her “sister” (my daughter) had her wisdom teeth out. Juno was right by her side as soon as she got home from the oral surgeon and has been overseeing her care ever since. We are very lucky to have live-in therapy, and I hope all of you find comfort in your own furry friends, whether they be real, stuffed, virtual, or imagined.

My Harry Belafonte is such a comfort to me during this isolation. He follows me wherever I go and is never in a bad mood, even when I am. Now that I am a widow this dog of mine is saving my life by just being here along with my two parakeets. They are both named Billy Holiday and they don’t seem to care that they both have the same name!

If one pet is good, then two pets must be two times better. Our two cats were rescued from an outdoor air conditioning vent many years ago in a mid-April freak snowstorm at my former workplace. My co-workers, knowing we’d recently lost two little black babies, called to ask whether we might be interested in adopting these two little kittens. We really weren’t ready to do that, still in mourning over the last two, but I said I’d go there to “have a look” at those kittens. Yeah, right! Like one can go “have a look” at little kittens and not snatch them up and take them home. Of course we ended up adopting them and now we have two fat, spoiled, precious cats who have enriched our lives beyond all expectations.