I’m stuck in traffic, again. I just want to get home. I’ve had another bad day at work, people were barking orders at me, everything was urgent, and my phone never stopped ringing. I’d spent all day feeling unimportant and under-appreciated, I had a banging headache because of the stress and I just wanted to crawl into my bed and pretend it was Friday instead of Tuesday. I finally escape the 5pm traffic and race home, the days stress and anxiety still draining me. I turn the key in the front door, and suddenly none of that mattered any more.
“Son!” I squeal in excitement, “My baby boy, how have you been today? I’ve missed you!” Angus scrambled around, wiggling his butt from side to side, desperate for me to pet him. Every little excitable bounce was a tiny tap-tap on the wooden floors. When I reached down to pet him, he let out a silly, playful growl. Which is when I realised I’d missed a crucial step in the greeting. ‘The check’.
Every time I walk in through the front door, it is absolutely vital that I sit on the stairs in the hallway so Angus can climb up to the step above, place his front paws on my back, and sniff my head. Once he knows it’s definitely me, the wiggling starts back up again and he flails his paws in every direction trying to contain his excitement. He snorts and pants and dances, all because I’m home. It’s almost impossible to feel sad and stressed when I’m greeted with that every evening.
Angus is my playful pug, I bought him as a puppy when I was 18. I was always pug mad and just wanted one to call my own; but the responsibility and companionship that came with him made my life feel full in a way I never thought pet ownership could. He’s always happy to see me, no matter what. Naps are so much better with a pug curled up on your lap – and he loves to nap! Training him (or attempting to) has been such a fun learning experience for both of us. When I’m sad, he always does something silly to cheer me up. If I’m feeling lonely, he’s always near for a cuddle. When I want to hide from the world, he wants to go outside for a walk. Adding Angus to my life has given me a new purpose I didn’t have before.
I’m not the only one, pets are proven to positively affect our mental health; encouraging us to get outside more, exercise, and engage socially with other pet owners. They also help in cases of loneliness and a poor sense of self, and just stroking a pet reduces stress and nerves and releases endorphins. I’ve even heard from people with smaller, less hands-on pets such as hamsters that they give them a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Angus is a warm ray of sunshine in my grey depressed world. And right now, I don’t know how I’d cope without my best friend and little baby in my life.