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October Newsletter 2006

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What's in This Issue
Take The Trickery Out Of Treats  -  Why Do They Do That?
Companion Animals at Work  -  Science Spotlight  -  Dietary

The Halloween/Pet Connection … Is it a Trick or a Treat

alloween originated in Ireland, where the Celts celebrated Samhain (Gaelic for “End of Summer”) as an agricultural, pastoral and religious festival.  It was believed that on these days after the last harvest, the veil that separated the realm of spirits from our world became thin enough for them to cross over.  These communities would gather around bonfires, burned in part to encourage the wayward spirits to return to their world.  These gatherings were also a way of uniting the people prior to the harsh realities of winter, as strong communal ties were necessary to endure these hardships.

In 835, Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration of All Saints’ Day (also called All Hallows’ Day) on November 1st throughout the expanse of the Catholic Church’s domain, which now included the British Isles.  Because Samhain traditionally fell on the night before this day, it came to be known as All Hallows’ Even’, and was eventually shortened to Hallowe’en.  It was not until after the immigration of nearly two million Irish following the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849) that Americans came to know of Halloween and begin to embrace its celebration. 

The majority of us do not concern ourselves with the same need to prepare for winters of hardship.  However, we do retain the same desire to reconnect with our communities, as evidenced by local celebrations of this holiday.  Recognizing and appreciating our connection with others may be an understated aspect of this holiday, but in our modern age it remains of vital importance.  Fostering a sense of community helps to bring meaning to our family life. 

More and more, the American family includes companion animals.  It is estimated that nearly 63% of all U.S. households include a pet, which equates to more than 69 million households.

  As pet parents, we recognize the importance of our bonds with our companion animals.  And now, there is scientific evidence to prove what we suspected all along.

Studies in recent decades have shown that holding and petting a companion animal can lower heart rate and blood pressure, help relieve stress and alleviate symptoms of depression. Compared to those who live in homes without companion animals, pet parents:
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- Are more likely to survive heart attacks.
- Tend to have lower cholesterol and  triglyceride levels.
- Have a reduced incidence of asthma.

Dog owners are much more likely to exercise than those who do not have dogs, either with daily walks or playing outdoors.  Those who live with companion animals tend to live longer and happier lives.  And children living in homes with companion animals tend to be more sociable and self-reliant, and are less selfish than children without pets.

Having a dog can subtly convey a sense of peace, serving as ever-vigilant guardians of the family.  If there is ever a potential threat to the home, we know they will waste no time in sounding an alert.

For those of us living without a partner, parents or children, having a companion animal can alleviate loneliness.  Few things can measure up to the joy of a beloved dog or cat welcoming you home after a long day at the office.  Some research has indicated that we may even be more comfortable with our pets than with our spouses.

Most of us have witnessed firsthand the effects of bringing our companion animals with us to public places, encouraging conversation with people who otherwise would not have interacted with you.  Studies have confirmed this, showing that companion animals facilitate interaction between strangers, even those without any obvious common ground.  In a world that tends toward social disconnectedness, having a companion animal that bridges the gap between strangers can be a powerful social motivator.

Taken altogether, companion animals really do make a profoundly positive impact in our lives individually, and as members of the greater community of life.  This Halloween, treat your companion animal to an extra helping of affection, in appreciation for all the wonderful things they do to make our lives better.
Dr. Jane Bicks, Veterinarian Product Formulator
Dr. Jane is a highly respected and nationally recognized holistic veterinarian and is responsible for HealthyPetNet's product formulation and development.  Be sure to take advantage of opportunities to ask Dr. Jane about HealthyPetNet products.  This month's "Ask Dr. Jane" calls will be held on Thurs., Oct. 5th and Thurs.,
Oct. 19th from 8:30—9:30 PM Eastern Time.  To participate in these live calls,
dial 918-222-7106, pass code 3830#.

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