Many of us enjoy the companionship of pets. These animals don’t ask for much—just a short list of basics such as food, shelter, veterinary care, and, of course, our companionship. Pets offer far more in return, teaching us about love, improving our emotional and physical health, and providing us with unconditional affection and friendship.

Companion animals are natural teachers. They help people of all ages learn about responsibility, loyalty, empathy, sharing, and unconditional love—qualities particularly essential to a child’s healthy development. One innovative program being explored in some areas pairs children having difficulty reading with dogs. There is something to be said about curling up with a dog and a good book; the children love it and their reading skills naturally improve with their new non-judgmental reading partner to keep them company. Interaction with pets has even been proven to increase focus and memory and help teach problem solving skills.

There can be many benefits to integrating pets into the classroom in school settings. Goals for students in school classrooms include:

* gaining knowledge about animals;

* learning humane animal care;

* motor and physical skill development through human-animal interactions;

* animal training;

* practicing discipline;

* incorporating an attitude of kindness and compassion;

* learning about nurturance;

* practicing loyalty and responsibility;

* experiencing human-animal bonding;

* learning responsible pet ownership

Through helping to care for a pet, children also learn to care for their fellow human beings. There is an established link between how people treat animals and how they treat each other. Kindness to animals is a lesson that benefits people, too.

Pets are good for our emotional and physical health. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age Put simply, pets aren’t just good friends, they are good teachers, therapists and good medicine!

groups. It’s well known that relaxed, happy people do not become ill as often as those who suffer from stress and depression.