MJ Wixsom: I have a falcom

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2023

There’s something truly magical about the connection we share with our pets. Whether it’s a wagging tail that greets us at the door, the soft purr of a contented cat, or the gentle nuzzle of a horse, these moments form the essence of the human-animal bond. 

As a veterinarian, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing countless examples of this bond’s power. As a falconer my new 16-week-old falcon is increasing this bond.

One of the most heartwarming aspects of my profession is seeing the transformation in the relationship between a pet and its owner. 

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The trust, love and companionship that develop over time create a profound sense of fulfillment for both parties involved. 

But this bond isn’t just a source of joy; it also has tangible benefits for our health and well-being.

Research has shown that having a pet can lead to improved physical and mental health. Here are some ways in which our animal companions contribute to our well-being.

Spending time with pets can lower stress levels by reducing the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. The simple act of petting a dog or cat can trigger the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” promoting relaxation and bonding. Jean Luc is not up to being petted for fun, but he is tolerating my touching him which is needed for checking him.

Interactions with pets can boost the release of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure.

This is why pets are often used in therapy settings to help individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, and trauma. Being with my young falcon brings me joy.

Owning a dog encourages regular physical activity through daily walks and playtime. This not only benefits the dog but also helps owners maintain a healthier lifestyle. Jean Luc needs to fly every day.  That means, I have to be outside everyday.  My step count just went up.

For many people, especially those living alone, pets provide companionship and alleviate feelings of loneliness. The presence of a furry friend can bring comfort and a sense of purpose. A falcon can help this too.

Studies suggest that pet ownership may be linked to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease. The calming influence of pets can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. 

It took me 20 minutes the other night to untangle Jean Luc’s jesses (without getting bitten), at a point I noticed how pleasant it was to be outside with my baby falcon.

While our pets bring us immense joy and health benefits, it’s essential to remember that we play a significant role in their well-being too.

Regular veterinary care, proper nutrition, exercise, and love are essential components of responsible pet ownership. Ensuring our pets’ happiness and health is a mutual responsibility that enhances the human-animal bond.

The human-animal bond is a beautiful reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings. It enriches our lives in countless ways, from reducing stress to improving our overall health. As a veterinarian, I’m honored to witness and support this bond every day in my practice. And live it in my life.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky.