Summer is my favorite season of the year for more reasons than I could list. Living Maine, the winters are so long and brutal, you have to really seize sunny days when you have them. One of my favorite things to do during the summertime is to spend time in the woods with my two dogs.
We’ve written in the past about the health benefits of owning a pet. Whether it’s a quiet, gentle old cat, or a rambunctious, wiggly puppy, animals have the power to release feel-good chemicals in our brains that make us happier, more relaxed, and can even help us to live longer. That’s a lot to give back in exchange for some food and shelter.
Of course, there are a variety of reasons some people can’t have pets of their own. Landlord issues, unstable lifestyles, family members with allergies, and more can all conspire to keep animal-lovers from having pets.
If you’re longing for animal companionship, why not volunteer your time at your local animal shelter. The animals there need to spend time with a variety of people in order to be properly socialized for their forever homes, and visitors — even ones who can’t take a pet home — prevent them from becoming too stir crazy.
You don’t even have to make a formal commitment. Most shelters will allow people to come in off the street and walk dogs or cuddle cats for a few minutes or an hour at a time. As long as the shelter isn’t too busy, the staff, and especially the animals, will be glad for the diversion.
There are other ways you can enjoy animals, too. Feed the birds. Watch the ducks at the park. Learn to ride a horse. Pet-sit for a friend. Visit a small farm or animal sanctuary.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with animals?