The Halloween/Pet Connection … Is it a Trick or a
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
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
- Are more likely to survive heart attacks.
- Tend to have lower cholesterol and
- 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
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.
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