Are you an animal person?

Dogs, cats, iguanas? Horses? How about goats?

Do they bring you joy or frustration or a little of both?

Our Pets

I am a dog person! I have three.

We also have a cat. She spends most of her day lollygagging around and trying to avoid the dogs.

My dogs bring me mostly joy and love, but there are also lots of frustrating moments. I have always had dogs and can’t even imagine my life without them. It might be so peaceful.

But they are so much more than just cuteness!

Having a pet or just being around animals is also good for us. (That is assuming they are not shredding our favorite shoes or peeing on the carpet at the moment!)

They give us unconditional Love and Acceptance. No matter how we walk right past them or how frustrated we become with them, they greet us like we are their most favorite person in the world. Their love is not contingent on our perfection or performance. They accept us fully, flaws and all.

They are also really good role models for staying present. Pets live fully in the present moment, free from worrying about the future or clinging to the past. Their “mindfulness” reminds us to come back to the here and now, where all of life’s richness and joy exist. They get complete and total joy from chasing a ball, just being touched, taking a nap, and getting a bowl of food. I definitely can take a lesson from them.

Having a pet and being around animals has some health benefits, too. Studies have shown that interactions with animals can decrease stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure, reduce loneliness, increase social support, and boost mood. That’s all good stuff.

Therapy pets and service animals can provide comfort and support and do amazing, real jobs, which is just amazing to watch.

They are cute and cuddly, give us comfort, and can teach us a few things as well.

Horses

Have you spent any time with horses?

I’m interested in how being around and working with animals is good for your health.

Horses can contribute to personal wellness. There is a whole world of equine-assisted therapies for people with disabilities, illness, stress, PTSD, and more. There are a few great equine therapy places near me that are focused on the healing power of horses and are really unique places. (They are always looking for volunteers, too.)

But anyone can benefit from being around horses.

Of course, there are physical benefits because riding a horse works your whole body. You will definitely feel your core after a ride, as well as your arms, thighs, and calves! Riding also improves your balance, coordination, and posture from moving with the horse. Not to mention that the daily tasks of feeding and mucking stalls are also a great workout.

But really, the most remarkable thing is how you feel when you are around a horse.

Horses have a quiet but powerful presence. You have to be present when you are around a horse. Horses are huge, and you have to be alert and focused so you are “in the moment” and can leave your daily stress behind. Just grooming a horse, even if you don’t ride it, gives you that same sense of patience and, peace and attentiveness to the animal.

When riding, you also have to stay focused but relaxed. This mindfulness and concentration is like a moving meditation.

And handling a horse can give you more self-confidence and a feeling of accomplishment.

Not everyone is comfortable on or around a horse, so sometimes, working with horses is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and try something that is really challenging for you.

For me, a city girl living in the country, I have come to love horses. I’m not a very good rider and a little nervous on top of a horse, but I do love to just be around them, feed, pet, groom (sometimes), and just feel their warmth and strength.

Now for Goats!

Have you ever done goat yoga?

One more animal that can bring you joy and maybe even some Zen.

Goat yoga is definitely a newish trend. I think it kind of sounds like a fun novelty, but goat yoga can provide some benefits.

So, how does this work with a yoga practice? In a goat yoga class, yoga instructors lead you through a typical yoga flow and sequence of poses.

The only difference is that little goats are allowed to wander freely around, sometimes even jumping onto your mat or your back!

The goats are friendly and help create a joyful, playful atmosphere that somehow works with the union of breath and movement, which is at the center of yoga.

So you experience all the benefits of yoga (increased strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and reduced stress) – while also tapping into the benefits of animal interactions (like comfort and mood boosts, mental stimulation, and mindfulness)

I think that moving alongside the goats also would bring some good laughs.

Goat yoga seems like a fun and unique way to get out of your head and into your body, try something completely different, and connect with nature.

I really want to give it a try. Surprise, there are places all around if you put in a Google search!

Next time you are around animals, note how you feel just being in their presence.

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