When we’re working on getting clean and sober, we often focus on attending meetings, going to therapy, and doing the work of maintaining sobriety. And while these are all good areas of focus, we also need to look at how to add some fun and some joy to our sober lives. This may come to us in different ways. We may explore hobbies such as exercise, photography, crafts, painting, or volunteering to help others. We may connect with new friends in sobriety or rekindle friendships from before our alcohol and drug use changed us. At the Last House, we’ve found that sometimes it is as simple as connecting with a rescue dog.
How Are Animals Therapeutic?
Pet owners have been telling us all about the benefits of having a pet for years, but it turns out that it’s just a story they tell. There is scientific evidence that dogs help reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, there is evidence that animal-assisted therapy sessions result in lower anxiety for individuals who have mood and other disorders. Some studies have shown that the presence of a dog can be as comforting as the presence of a human friend during stressful or traumatic times.
In addition to the benefits dogs can provide during therapy or stress, dogs can also provide us with a lifeline to some normalcy in our lives. Many of us new to recovery have forgotten how to take care of ourselves, never mind another being. A dog or cat can provide us with the opportunity to help another living thing survive and thrive. By participating in the care of a pet, you allow yourself to focus on something outside of yourself and to begin to relearn taking on some responsibility. By doing this within a sober living environment, you can enjoy the benefits of caring for a pet without having to get your own pet.
Benefits of Having a Pet
Beyond the studies about the effects of pets during therapy or stress, it’s easy to see how the presence of a dog or cat can change the dynamic for us when we are on our own or with others. Dogs and cats offer us unconditional love, in their own way, solely because we exist. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to have a dog, you know that your dog is just as happy to see you when you’ve been gone 5 minutes as he is when you’ve been gone 5 hours. There is something beautiful and reassuring about having another living thing be so happy to see you. Additionally, animals can bridge the gap between people and offer themselves up as a topic of conversation. Instead of finding yourself sitting with another person in awkward silence, you might find yourself chatting about that quirky dog and all the crazy things he does.
Pet Therapy at the Last House
The Last House Sober Living is a network of sober living homes in the heart of West Los Angeles. We believe in providing our clients with the tools to have a meaningful life and participate in their own sobriety. Activities such as service commitments, sober parties, conventions, dances, and house outings are all a part of helping you learn how to have fun in sobriety. We also know that animals can make a world of difference in early sobriety. By rescuing dogs, we enable our residents to participate in caring for a pet without having to take on the responsibility of pet ownership. If you’re wondering where to start to create your sober life, The Last House is here to help.