by Sarah JF Braley | August 14, 2020

That's our dog, Jackie, over there to the left. If we hadn't already had her in our house, I definitely would have been among the millions who have gone out and adopted a pandemic pet. But what if you don't have room for one, or the patience to train one, or any desire to take responsibility for one? There are many ways to get a feel-good boost from animals without the expense of owning a pet.

Take watching funny animal videos on the Internet, for instance. An article from the Washington Post argues that watching a cat use a drying rack as uneven parallel bars, or a dog licking the last of the peanut butter out of the jar its nose is stuck in provides necessary mood enhancement. "Anything that's distracting from negativity and that gives you positive emotion -- that makes you feel happy -- is worthwhile," Sonja Lyubomirsky, vice chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Riverside, told the newspaper. She should know: Lyubomirsky studies human happiness.

Getting out to touch, cuddle or just watch some animals also helps -- think petting zoo, goat yoga, volunteering at your local pet shelter and the like. According to the BBC, people can even head to a farm in Holland to hug cows. 

Or, maybe the idea of adopting a pet does appeal. Organizations that train service animals -- including the TSA -- always have canine candidates that just don't make the grade but have been well trained. The Seeing Eye and similar organizations also adopt out their lovable dropouts.

Photograph by Margaret Braley