Unconditional Love for our Pets
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” - Anatole France
Describing the love a pet owner has for his or her companion is incredibly difficult. How do you verbalize the absolute joy of having your dog eagerly greet you after you’ve been gone for a few hours, nuzzling up like you’re the most important thing on the planet? How can you possibly articulate the happiness when a cautious cat warms up to you, leaning into pats on the back and purring when you’re close? Even when animals get in trouble, such as tearing apart a pillow and making a mess of the feathers (see picture below), it’s impossible to stay upset with your furry family member. A smile spreads across my face when I merely picture by sweet collies and my three sassy rescue cats (who, very lovingly, are all named after famous painters).
From a purely analytical and factual standpoint, animal lovers enjoy staggering psychological and physical health benefits by being around pets. Cat owners have a 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk, while stroking a dog actually boosts the immune system. Researches have been able to prove that pets ultimately change the chemistry of the owner’s brain. Spending time with a companion animal triggers a release of Oxytocin, which slows heart rate and breathing, quiets blood pressure, and inhibits the production of stress hormones, as well as the endorphins that produce a “runner’s high” for athletes (Montgomery). Therefore, we chemically and physiologically have a positive response to being around our beloved animals.
Beyond the scientific explanation, there is also the plain and simple fact that pets, no matter what size, breed, or age, love their owners so deeply, and make sure that you know it! Whether it’s snuggling and kissing you when you come home or crying when you leave the room, animals obviously express their compassion and kindhearted souls. I love having my pets in the studio with me while I paint. Their presence and unconditional love helps me stay serene, joyful, and open-minded, and keeps my personal creativity flowing. I am able to paint fearlessly and with immense happiness and appreciation because of my animals. In addition, they’ve served as the inspiration for many of my pieces of art; I love to pay homage to my cats and dogs by capturing them on canvas.
I have built my painting business and practice around supporting animals in need. If you’d like to give back to your beloved animal or share a present with a pet-loving family member or friend, I offer original, one-of-a-kind custom pet portraits. These make for lovely, heartfelt gifts, and there is still plenty of time before the holidays approach for me to carefully craft a painting to commemorate your love for your animal! There is more information available at www.carylfineart.com/pet-portraits. If you’re interested in trying your own hand at painting animal portraits, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be offering a limited-time enrollment in a new online painting workshop series. More information will be released on my social media accounts next week.
In addition to creating art that is inspired by sweet pets, a portion of all proceeds from both my painting sales and workshop enrollment is donated to charities that support animals in need. I am an active member of HeARTS Speak, an international nonprofit organization that is uniting art and advocacy to increase the visibility of shelter animals. I am endlessly grateful that I can combine the two things I am most passionate about - painting and animals - and bring joy to both peoples’ and animals’ lives.
Hug your animals tightly today, pet them with a smile, and be grateful for the unconditional love you both and give and receive from them!
Sy Montgomery. “Psychological Effects of Pets are Profound.” Boston Globe, 12 January 2015. www.bostonglobe.com.