Most of us want to make a fresh start when the new year rolls around. Many of us make a resolution to do something or change something, for the better hopefully. One in three of us will make a resolution this New Years Day, but less than half of those that make a resolution will stick to it for six months. So, I thought we would take a fun look at how pets can help you keep your resolve.

Some of the top resolutions are to lose weight, volunteer, decrease stress in our lives and save money. So let's take a look at how your furry friend can help you.
Losing weight is hard for most of us. We all know if we eat less, and more healthy, and exercise, we will lose weight. And what better way to exercise than to take the dog for a walk. It will do your dog good because he/she will get out and get some exercise, and once you start a routine, he/she will make sure you remember it is time to get off the couch and go for that walk. And of course the more you do it, the further and the faster you both will be able to travel. Start off slow and build up to a stronger you.

Volunteering makes us feel better and makes others feel better. There are many people all over, but especially right here in our community, who cannot get out or have no family. A visit to a nursing home can do wonders for the patients there. If your dog or cat is friendly and outgoing the joy they can spread is huge. A dog or a cat can help the elderly by stimulating interactions, increasing sensory stimulation, decreasing loneliness. Visiting with a dog and going room to room can be very rewarding. Years ago, I took my Border collie visiting at a facility outside Baltimore, MD. We went about once a month and I would visit any ward they wanted me to visit. On the Alzheimer's unit, my dog dropped his ball by a gentleman's foot and stared at him asking him to kick it for him. The gentleman did and then told me I had a beautiful dog. I was told by the worker with me that those were the first words he had spoken since coming to the unit two weeks earlier. It still makes me tear up to think about the joy my dog brought someone else. We all know the joy of being greeted by our own pets, we can share that with others. Be sure to check with the facility where you are wanting to go visit about the requirements they have. There are also programs to get certified in animal-assisted therapy. Another way to volunteer would be to go to the shelters and see if they need help. You know what they say, many hands make light work. And then you can help socialize the animals at the shelter so they will be more ready for a new home. Call around and see who needs help.

Decrease stress. Who does not want to decrease the stress in their own lives? It is so nice to be greeted by a dog or cat when you get home at night. They love you even when you do not feel lovely. They do not usually complain if you feed the same thing two nights in a row. The unconditional love of a pet, the companionship they offer and the need for a routine all help to decrease our own personal stress. And studies have shown that petting an animal can help to decrease your blood pressure, too. And how can you be lonely when your dog pushes his nose into your lap for you to rub it? Now can your pet help you save money? Well, it goes back to that exercise thing. A leash and collar are way less expensive than most gym memberships. And most dogs will keep you accountable to get off that couch. Just be sure to pick a breed that does well with exercise and be careful of the heat for both of you.

Pets can bring great joy to your own life, and the lives of others.

So keep those resolutions!!!