What is the definition of a mother? Most people would say it’s the woman who gave them birth. While that’s true, the word “mother” has a much broader meaning, and the woman who gave a child life does not always fit the more evolved definition of a mom. This is the case, for example, with the undeniable wonderful role of adoptive mothers.
On Mother’s Day especially, we honor mothers because they are the ones who raised us, nurtured us, and taught us important life lessons along the way.
So when we define a mother on Mother’s Day – or any other day – we need to make sure we include all women who fit that category, be they friends, blood relatives—or pet moms.
Pets are a large part of our lives – approximately 62 percent of households in the United States have a pet according to the ASPCA, and there are 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats owned in the nation.
Not surprisingly, many pet owners view their furry charges as children. We have accepted the responsibility for their lives, and in exchange for giving them the nurturing they need, animals give us companionship, love and comfort. What’s more, animals almost never go through the rebellious stage human teenagers do—at least not for very long.
Mother’s Day facts: Health benefits of being a pet mom
Pet moms are special people — they provide shelter, love and food for another creature, knowing that cute bundle of fur, hair or scales will never clean up after itself or bring breakfast in bed, and will likely die after just a few years.
But just because pet moms give a lot doesn’t meant they don’t get a lot in return.
According to a report from Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, the human-animal bond, while known of for quite some time, was never fully examined scientifically until several decades ago.
That very first study, conducted by Alan Beck of Purdue University, and a psychiatrist, Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania, evaluated what physically happens to a person when they interact with a dog.
After only 5 to 24 minutes of interaction with a friendly dog, study participants saw a reduction in blood pressure, slowed heart rate, regulation of breathing, and muscle relaxation—all physical indicators of stress relief. What’s more, the study found stress hormones in the body dropped after pet interaction, indicating a pet may actually allow someone to decrease their need for stress-management medications.
But Katcher and Beck’s research wasn’t the only investigation into the human-animal bond. Following studies found pet moms (and dads!) actually live longer, healthier lives. People with pets have been found to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol as well as lower rates of depression.
Mother’s Day isn’t about the children, though
Mother’s Day isn’t about what pets do for their moms, it’s about what moms do for pets. While there is no definitive way to measure happiness in a pet—and some people debate the use of such human-specific terms when it comes to animals—it is possible to evaluate quality of life.
Good pet moms provide their furry children with balanced diets and exercise, a safe place to live, preventative and necessary medical care, entertainment and play time, and all the love and attention their four-legged children demand (and if you are a pet parent, you know how much this is true) .
Pet moms may also spend hours educating their little ones and exercising a good dose of patience and persistence on this endeavor.
You’ll see pet moms carry their duties on the rainiest or coldest of all days — if their furry kids have to go, they have to go. And you’ll also find them celebrating outfits, faces, funny poses, singing skills and every other unique characteristic their pets possess (And they have many Facebook and Instagram albums to prove it!)
For these reasons, pet moms (and pet grandmas!) need to be remembered and celebrated on Mother’s Day.
Because pets can’t do it themselves, if you know someone who dedicates their life to the care of animals, take time to thank them on this special day, and let them know their efforts are appreciated. And if you are a pet mom, we salute you and recognize you for your dedication, love and caring nature.