If you've been considering welcoming a pet into your home, but still haven't fully committed to visiting one of the UAE's many animal shelters, here's why you should.
And, if you aren't quite ready to make that life-long commitment, now, more than ever, there are dogs and cats in shelters who are looking for a family to love albeit on a temporary basis.
Fostering a pet is a good way to give you a taste of what it's like to be responsible for a fur-baby... And chances are, at the end, you won't want to let them go anyway.
Shaheen Shahani – owner of pet salon Shampooch, and mum to Kai, 12, Sophia, six, and cocker spaniel Oreo, two – outlines all of the benefits of growing up with a pet.
Having a dog at home has been a great way to teach my kids about responsibility. Making sure that he has food and water, goes for a walk and gets some play time gives them something to be accountable for (of course with help from Mum). I think it also helps with them learning empathy and compassion.
For my kids, our dog is their best friend. He is there for them to talk to when they are happy, sad, afraid or when they just want to cuddle, play and even read. Sophia loves reading fairy tales to Oreo, which is great for her to practice her reading and build her self-confidence.
Caring for our dog also encourages a more active lifestyle for the entire family, not just the kids. We take regular family walks together with our dog, throw a ball or play chase in the garden.
Happiness and laughter
It has been proven that being around dogs raises levels of serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel positive. Petting a dog daily is said to reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure.
According to research kids living with pets are healthier. They have a high-resistant immune system that is able to ward of more diseases naturally, which is great news for mums as that means fewer visits to the doctor.
What the kids say
Sophia says: “I like reading to Oreo and love always having a best friend to talk to. He wakes Mum and Dad up at night when I am crying.”
Kai says: “We love family cuddles in the big bed and Oreo is always the first one there! It’s amazing to always have someone by your side.”
There are plenty of shelters to visit where you can meet the dogs and cats looking for their foster or permanent home: