Animals play an important part in a healthy lifestyle and environment. We have all seen the beautiful photos of the earth from space. What is so unique and beautiful about the planet that we live on—the plants and animals that inhabit it—life itself. As humans, we are just one of the species that form a part of our environment. All species—both animals and plants—live in a delicate balance. As custodians of the environment, the human species must do all that it can to protect this delicate balance. If we do not protect the environment, the health of future generations will be adversely affected through global warming and all of its ramifications. A rise in sea levels will flood major coastal cities, reduce habitable land mass, force the extinction of many species of animals, bring on drought and desertification, and many species will have difficulty finding enough food to eat, including humans. Al Gore pointed out the dangers of global warming in his An Inconvenient Truth.
The recent dog fighting case brought against NFL football star Michael Vick, that has been in the news recently, points out the need for educating our children to respect the environment and the animals that live in it. Teach your children about the wonder of nature early on and they will grow up learning to respect the environment. Children showing signs of aggressive behavior towards animals should be referred for mental health counseling. This can be an early sign of conduct disorder or even later sociopathic behavior. Many serial killers started out as animal abusers.
Learning to respect animals is important to mental health. Pet ownership can reduce depression, be companionship for an elderly empty nest senior, and reduce tension and anxiety. It has also been shown that playing with a pet not only improves mental health but can reduce blood pressure, so there are physical benefits as well.
As I play with my chocolate lab mix, Julia, I never stop being amazed by how intelligent she is. I enjoy interacting with her. She is a companion that follows me every place that I go. She is always eager to greet me, and puts a smile on my face. She cannot talk, but she can communicate with me. It is amazing how she is able to read body language. If I go through a series of motions, she knows what is coming next. Without my saying anything, she knows that I am about to leave the house, or that she should go into the bedroom because I am expecting guests and they don’t like being barked at. She also knows how to signal her wants and needs through her own body language. Julia is also capable of expressing a wide range of emotions. Surely, such an amazing creature should be treated with respect.
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