Stress busters: The benefits of having pets as companions

  • Abha Goradia, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2015 18:48 IST

Last week, a city-based pet café called Mutt Hutt organised Doggie Dates - an event aimed at making dogs' playtime part of their owners' routines. Pooches and their owners participated in canine behavioural training sessions, games, and had meals together.

Many people, including Bollywood stars, consider pets their closest companions and stress busters. In March, actor Shah Rukh Khan mourned his dog's death on Twitter, saying, "Ultimate lov is the 1 u dont express, the 1 that alters the very nature of lov itself, from expression to faith, lik our lil Dash had.R.I.P (sic)."

A study by reveals that dogs, in particular, have the ability to ease loneliness, and reduce stress.

As a child, Nicholas Furtado, an advertising executive, often brought home injured stray dogs, and nursed them back to health. Three months back, when his wife gave birth to a girl, he decided to get his baby daughter a dog.

"Those who haven't grown up with dogs don't know the responsibility that having a pet entails. My colleagues often go out drinking, and if they'd like, they can fall asleep at anybody's house, but I can't. I have to go home, so I can take my dog out for a walk in the morning," he says.

From L to R: Paris Hilton with her new unnamed Pomeranian; Salman Khan with one of his dogs; Miley Cyrus with her Rough Collie, Emu and Amanda Seyfried with her Australian Shepherd Finn.

Friends in need
Yusuf Shah, a medical practitioner, feels that pets make for great companions in times of difficulty. As a child, Shah was sent to a boarding school in Panchgani because his parents had to devote more time to taking care of his ailing sibling. Not having his family around was depressing, and it was then that Shah started spending time with stray animals.

"My parents didn't allow me to keep pets, so I ended up catching my first fish from a pond. They give out positive energy, and can react to the owner's presence," he says.

Low maintenance
Many people harbour the misconception that lack of space in their homes is a reason for not adopting animals. But publicist Anusha Iyer, who owns eight dogs and 13 cats, doesn't believe so. "Pets are just happy to be where you are," she says, adding that most of her pets had been abandoned by their previous owners before she took them in. "We didn't mean to have so many of them, but they just came. And you don't turn your back on someone who comes home," says Iyer.

Even make-up artiste Recinda Martis, who used to fear dogs as a child, couldn't resist the charm of a baby Dalmatian that she had agreed to foster for three days.

"Every morning, my dog is the first one I meet. I have a child, but I feel a dog's love is unconditional. When I am feeling low, he is there for me," she says. Martis currently owns four cats and two dogs, and she emphasises that adoption is the best method to find a pet.

Animal farm
Sameer Mayekar, who works for a telecom company, has an interesting mix of pets, including dogs and fighter hens. After he got his first dog, a Labrador, Mayekar went on to buy two more dogs - both Great Danes. Since his father already owned cocks, he also developed an interest in the fighter breed.

"I used to save my pocket money to buy eggs of fighter hens; each would cost around `250 at that time. I love how they look like they've walked straight out of Jurassic Park. They have pretty eyes too," he says.

Celebrity pets
* Salman Khan's dogs are named Mowgli, Saint and Mylove.
* Priyanka Chopra's dog, Brando, has apparently been named after the Hollywood star, Marlon Brando.
* Ajay Devgn has two German Shepherds, named Koko and Koki.
* Imran Khan owns two Labradors, Kajri and Tony.
* Shilpa Shetty has a Pekingese dog named Champagne and two Persian cats.

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