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It’s Official! Kids Who Grow Up With Pets Make More Sensitive, Sympathetic, Successful Adults

For children, having an animal friend can lead to a greater quality of life further down the road.

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(TMU) — For those of us who’ve had our lives enriched with new additions to our families—be they our children or new animal companions—it should come as no surprise that the benefits are myriad.

And for parents, while it may seem like too much work to bring a pet into the family—be it a cat, dog, guinea pig, or fish—the long-term gains of such a decision can far outweigh the costs.

In fact, studies have shown that children who grow up with pets often enjoy a major boost in terms of Emotional Intelligence or EQ, which can lead to better academic success not to mention an enhanced sense of responsibility, empathy, and a knowledge of the cycle of life that can equip children with a huge leg-up in life skills. As the Washington Post writes, “more than intelligence, EQ is the best indicator of a child’s likely success in school.”

And while children’s Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, is believed by experts to be unchangeable, one’s EQ can improve with practice. For children, having an animal friend can provide a great head-start to developing their EQ—which, in turn, can pay dividends in terms of our kids enjoying a greater quality of life further down the road.

Here are just a few of the EQ skills developed by children with pets:

1. Empathy

Children with pets have an opportunity to learn some important lessons. In an overview of scientific studies on the subject, Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda wrote:

“If there are pets in the house, parents and children frequently share in taking care of the pet, which suggests that youngsters learn at an early age how to care for and nurture a dependent animal.”

Even children who are extremely young are capable of helping to care for and feed their pets, whether in tasks as simple as bringing them food or learning how to physically interact with their pets in a sensitive manner. And while children may require supervision in their first few pet interactions, these formative lessons in compassion, consent, and thinking about life beyond themselves can be crucial in terms of teaching some basics on empathy that apply to animals and humans alike.

2. Self-Esteem

Caring for animals offers a hefty set of responsibilities, whether it’s in respect to tasks as mundane as filling a water bowl or achievements as major as teaching your dog a new skill. For children, performing these tasks can lead to a sense of personal fulfillment, competence, and independence. As Endenburg and Baarda wrote:

“[A researcher] found that children’s self-esteem scores increased significantly over a nine-month period of keeping pets in their school classroom. In particular, it was children with originally low self-esteem scores who showed the greatest improvements.”

3. Cognitive Development

Spending time with pets can be extremely rewarding from a practical standpoint, whether in terms of acquiring linguistic skills or improving oral competency. Many children even love to conduct “story time” with their pets, reading aloud to their cats or dogs. As researchers explain:

“Pet ownership might facilitate language acquisition and enhance verbal skills in children. This would occur as a result of the pet functioning both as a patient recipient of the young child’s babble and as an attractive verbal stimulus, eliciting communication from the child in the form of praise, orders, encouragement and punishment.”

4. Stress Reduction

Animals can provide unmatched emotional support, weakening negative feelings and providing positivity like no other. In fact, researchers found that many children make a bee-line for their pets whenever they are stressed. For kids and adults alike, our pets provide a source of unconditional love and support. As we know well, us complicated humans can often muck up a situation with criticism, judgmental attitudes, and sarcasm—something our animal friends are never capable of.

5. A Keen Understanding of the ‘Cycle of Life’

For too many families, a discussion of concepts like birth and death is a real challenge that often doesn’t come until the death of a loved one—be it a child’s grandparent, an elderly relative, or a family friend. And with such losses come major pain and even life-altering trauma. However, children with pets can often learn important early lessons on the difficulties of life and inexorable nature of death. Endenburg and Baarda explained:

“The way in which their parents and others near to them deal with the situation will have an influence on how children cope with death in general throughout their lives.

At the other end of an animal’s life is birth. For most children the birth of animals is an exciting moment that can give parents the opportunity to explain how life begins and can form part of sex education.”

While every family has its own unique structure, demands, and needs—not to mention hereditary and genetic factors—a pet can serve as a major resource for children, especially youngest siblings and only children.

And it’s important to note that while these benefits can be powerful in people’s earliest stages of development, many of the above concepts apply equally to adults as well.

If any of the above concepts sound familiar to adult readers, that’s because some of the same benefits are relevant for grown-ups too, including the social support and stress reduction.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Animals

Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

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Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.

“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.

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