It doesn't take much time on the Internet to find studies that show having a pet can benefit your health. But I found a Charlotte woman who found the benefits much greater than just added exercise.
Three years ago Susie Adams found herself at the most painful point of her life. Her father died after a seven week illness. He'd been a great mentor and close friend as he and her mother grew older. "In recent years, as he aged, I spent a lot of time with him and my mom. And my dad and I did a lot of things together just the two of us, he loved to go to football games," Adams told me.
So with this sudden loss, both she and her mother found themselves with a giant piece of their lives missing. "He passed away and it was just so difficult. It leaves a hole in your heart! I just could not imagine how it would feel and my mother felt the same sense of loss. So we really weren't able to help each other recover because we were both grieving," Adams remembers.
Before her father passed away Susie had been thinking about adopting a dog, she knew it was time.
She remembers seeing "Murphy" in a picture on the Humane Society of Charlotte's web site. "There was just something in his eyes and I went to see him and it was a cold gray January day. He was just a little ragamuffin. He was just a mess and he wouldn't let me touch him at first. He was shaking like a leaf… then I was on the ground with him and he put his paws on my shoulders and looked at my eyes, like you have got to help me and that was it I fell in love!"
As good as Adams was for her Shih Tzu mix, HE transformed her life. "I had no idea how much he would do for me! It gets me out! Before Murphy I worked and I came home I didn't know my neighbors," Adams said. How quickly things changed.
Now there are meet ups with neighbors and neighborhood dogs, long walks. "Murphy certainly isn't a big dog you go on long runs with but he takes long leisurely walks and that's better for me than no walks!"
A friendship that began on a sad and gloomy winter's day three years ago turned into the perfect medicine for an aching heart. She even taught Murphy a trick when her dad's favorite teams, The Panthers, score a touchdown. The little dog gets on his hind legs and does a double hi-five!
If you're interested in adding a pet to your family, The Humane Society, as you can see from Susie's story, is a perfect place to start!