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Mental Health Benefits of Pets and REAL LIFE AND OTHER FICTIONS by Susan Coll

Cover of the book Real Life and Other Fictions by Susan Coll used to teach the mental health concept of mental health benefits of Pets

Cassie spent the last few decades caring for her callous husband and loving daughter. That period in her life abruptly ended when Cassie’s daughter went away to college, and, at about the same time, she found out that her husband cheated on her and left him. Cassie is mad, sad, and exhausted. But also, having newly freed herself from the responsibilities associated with her child and husband, Cassie is insatiably curious about the bridge collapse that killed her parents. This obsession isn’t entirely new, but impulsively getting in the car and driving to see the town for herself is unlike anything Cassie has ever done before.


It's a long ride across a few states. Cassie’s in the driver’s seat, and there’s only one creature joining for this wild ride: her beloved puppy, Luna. When Cassie falls and hurts herself, Luna offers comfort. When Cassie is lonely, Luna provides companionship. When Cassie meets an intriguing man, Luna clearly expresses her approval. Cassie and Luna share an immensely fulfilling and stable relationship.  


Cassie is not alone. Many people experience mental health benefits from having pets. With their unique ability to reduce stress and anxiety, decrease loneliness, and provide unconditional love and support, pets can serve as an exceedingly helpful coping tool. They offer a sense of purpose and cultivate an overall calming presence, making each day a little brighter.


People with pets, particularly dogs, spend more time outside, go for more frequent leisurely walks, and interact regularly with other pet owners. The mix of movement, connection, and time in nature is protective against depression.


Here are some tips to maximize the mental health benefits of pets:


Play Together: Try being silly with your pet. Explore games or places you might both enjoy.


Relish Caretaking: Pets are entirely reliant on you. Allow yourself to enjoy taking care of the pet you love.


Talk it Out: Pets are good listeners. Practice expressing your thoughts to your completely non-judgmental companion.  

Love Susan Coll? Me too. Check out my post on one of her other books, Bookish People, and avoiding doom scrolling.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


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