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THIS I BELIEVE: Animals help you heal

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Coach

Maddie Love

Editor's note: This I Believe is a nationwide essay project that aims to inspire public discourse about belief. The Record & Landmark publishes essays throughout February. For more information, visit www.thisibelieve.org.

I believe that animals have healing power. I believe that they have the ability to make situations better, even without using words. I’ve always loved animals, but never experienced this love and healing until six months ago.

I’ve been an animal lover all of my life as I’ve had cats, horses, goats, dogs and fish. My favorite are dogs. Growing up, my family had a black toy poodle named Midnight. He passed away this year from numerous medical issues and I was heartbroken. We got him as a puppy. He stayed very small and I loved him so much. He was always happy to see me and would sit in my lap for as long as I wanted. The only problem with Midnight was that he imprinted strongly on my mom. I never truly felt like he was mine, although I know he loved me. Naturally, after he died, my family couldn’t last long without having a dog in the house. We looked all over for the perfect one. This time, we wanted a big dog that we could take places, like hiking and on long walks.

We finally saw a picture of a fluffy puppy at a farm. We went to the farm and instantly fell in love. There, sitting calmly in the grass was my dog. He was a perfect goldendoodle puppy with the prettiest brown eyes and long eyelashes. His sister was running all over the place, but not him. They told us that if he didn’t go home with us he was going to be a therapy dog because of his demeanor. He was so calm and observant. We definitely couldn’t go home without him.

Over the next few months, as we were falling in love with him, my mom and I trained him. Coach, as he was later named, has stayed relaxed, and knows numerous commands. We took it upon ourselves to train him to be a therapy dog because he is so well behaved, and we take him everywhere. Through this I learned about the power dogs and animals possess, as I previously mentioned.

Coach goes most places with us in his therapy vest. Everywhere we go, people stop and smile at him and want to love on him. Given the command, he goes over to them, loves them, and lays his head in their lap, being especially gentle with little kids. Coach is good with people with developmental issues and he’s even comfortable around wheelchairs. He brings joy to everyone he’s around. When I get anxious, I go rub him and it calms me down. You honestly cannot help but smile when you look at him.

Dogs and animals have tons of benefits. Along with bringing happiness, animals lower blood pressure, improve heart health, release calming endorphins, lower most physical pain and provide companionship. Colleges are even realizing this and are allowing therapy animals into dorms and lectures.

So yes, I believe that animals have healing powers and multiple health benefits. I mean, look at that face.

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