woman walking her dog
February 19, 2016 | by The Polyclinic

What is it about our furry (or hairy, feathery, scaly) friends that make us smile? The CDC reports that the positive impact of companion animals extends beyond happiness – they may actually improve our health. Pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels as well as feelings of loneliness. In celebration of National Love Your Pet Day, on Saturday, February 20, we're celebrating our pets and the ways they bring us health and happiness.

3 Ways Pets Bring Health and Happiness

  • Get us moving. Taking your pet on a walk, hike or run helps you get in extra steps. One NIH study analyzed patterns of 2,000 adults; those who owned dogs were more physically active and less likely to be obese.
  • Decrease depression. Studies show that a pet’s companionship can reduce anxiety and bring our attention to the present. Being more mindful in the moment can help you feel calmer and less stressed.
  • Create connections. Pets have been found to provide social opportunities for older people. Having a pet that requires outdoor activity or care can build connections outside the home. In addition, pets help people of all ages make new friends. From attending events that cater to animals to chats at the park, life with pets fosters conversation.

Meet Our Furry Friends

Polyclinic employees share the ups and downs of pet ownership and why they appreciate their pets. They require time, energy and plenty of patience, but pets bring plenty of fun, laughter and love.


From top left to right: Trouble, Porter, Finn and Bruce


Trouble keeps Jill Dwyer, a Polyclinic medical technologist, laughing with his frisky fridge habits. “Even when he’s being annoying (getting in the fridge while I’m trying to get my lunch ready and get out the door), he makes me smile,” said Dwyer. “He makes me laugh on a daily basis. It’s great to come home and have him at the door waiting and happy to see me.”


Porter greets Ashley Hinckley, a Polyclinic patient service representative, each day with energy and excitement. Porter , a chocolate lab, motivates Ashley and her family to get outside. “We’re definitely more active now, we’ve done training courses with her, gone on hikes, and we spend a lot of time at the dog park,” said Hinckley.


Samantha Webber, a Polyclinic medical assistant, chose a pig for a pet because of his intelligence, cleanliness, and quiet demeanor. Finn has an energetic side though too. “Finn always puts me in a good mood when he walks around and begs for food, getting on his back hooves.”


A Corgi terrier, Bruce is now two years old. He is beyond his puppy days as pictured above but still has a playful and goofy side. “When he ‘talks,’ he perches himself on the back of the couch like a bird – A BIG bird,” said Michelle Dellinger, a Polyclinic scheduler. “He is so sweet when he gives puppy kisses and he cuddles like a pro.”

So on National Love Your Pet Day, go ahead and show your pet some love. It’s a purrfectly acceptable.