A little help from our furry friends

So how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? If the answer is, not quite as well as you hoped, adopting a four-legged buddy may just be the answer.

There are so many ways dogs and cats can help you achieve your life goals, not just in this new year, but throughout your lives together.

So, if you’re looking to do any of the following, keep in mind that there’s a shelter or rescue pet that’s eagerly waiting to join you on your quest. Best of all, by adopting, that pet will be fixed, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to roll, all for one low adoption fee… and you’ll be saving a life. That’s a total win-win.

Get fit

Personal trainers are all the rage, but not feasible for most people’s budget. You know who can help? A dog! After all, it’s just about impossible to say no to a wagging tail and puppy dog eyes. Before you know it, you’ll be strapping on your walking shoes and grabbing a leash.

Daily walks or jogs with your dog make it easy to get moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise (which is recommended by the American Heart Association for 30 minutes a day, five days a week). Just head out to one of the many paseos and trails around the Santa Clarita Valley.

To create a truly healthy habit, walk in the morning. The effects will sustain you throughout the day, plus studies show that people who exercise in the a.m. are more likely to stick with it for at least one year compared to those who exercise at any other times.

Be more social

For most people in our fast-paced world, it can be a challenge to find the time to make friends or get out and talk to real live people (not just via chat or text).

 A dog can change all that. Merely by walking your dog or taking an outing to a dog park (if your dog likes other canines), you’ll instantly strike up conversations with like-minded people. After all, dog owners like nothing more than talking about their pet. 

If your dog isn’t fond of other canines, try taking him or her to a coffeehouse or restaurant patio where you both can relax with a good book or cup of coffee. Dogs are a natural ice-breaker and a catalyst for making potential new friends.

Ease stress

Sure, they’re adorable to look at and fun to snuggle with, but did you know that living with a pet is also healthy? Research has shown quality time with pets can lower blood pressure, bolster your immune system and lessen anxiety.

You can make the most of this natural stress relief, by taking a daily fifteen-minute break with your cat or dog to meditate. Sit with your cat or dog in a comfortable place, stroke their fur and try to let go of your stressful thoughts. Focus on being present and breathing deeply and steadily.

While it may seem silly to talk to your pets, they can be great confidants, providing only unconditional love in response. According to a study by Purina, more than half of people talk to their pets about their problems — and one-third of women in the study said the pet was a better listener than their husband or boyfriend!

Eat better

Many of us humans struggle with snack attacks, but there’s an easy solution. Skip the fatty, sweet or salty treats and instead share some good-for-you human foods with your dog. Prep items such as watermelon, raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds, blackberries, cranberries, blueberries, bananas, apple slices and baby carrots in advance so the snacks are easy to access at a moment’s notice.

Just keep in mind that only 10 percent of a dog’s daily calories should come from treats. You’ll also want to check with your veterinarian to make sure these foods are appropriate for your particular dog.

Have more adventure

Are you longing to hit the open road but don’t have a human to share the adventure with? No worries. Most dogs love road trips! Hotel chains such as Motel 6 and La Quinta offer dog-friendly rooms while AirBNB, HomeAway and VRBO have rentals big enough for the whole family (including Fido) all across the country.

Ready to find your #lifegoals buddy? Check out Petfinder.com to find that perfect pal or visit an adoption center near you:

Castaic Animal Care Center
31044 Charlie Canyon Road, Castaic
(661) 257-3191
Open Monday to Thursday: noon to 7 p.m., Friday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Best Friends Lifesaving Center
15321 Brand Blvd., Mission Hills
(818) 643-3989 or www.bestfriendsla.org
Open daily, noon to 8 p.m.


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