At the end of a long day, there’s nothing I look forward to more than heading home to (attempt to) cuddle my cat, MJ. She’s my fuzzy little ball of stress relief, and the 30 whole seconds she’ll tolerate sitting on my lap work wonders for my day-to-day well-being. Science backs this up, too.
Numerous studies have found that pets bring many welcome benefits to our emotional health and overall well-being. Their cuddles and unconditional love help relieve our stress and anxiety and regulate our emotions. Their silly antics make us laugh, and their dependence on our care strengthens our sense of family and belonging — reminding us that we matter to someone other than ourselves. And you don’t even need a furball of your own to reap the benefits; looking at cute photos and videos works too.
These high-profile pets mean the world to their famous owners. Read on to see how they help their powerful humans thrive in the spotlight, and check them out on Instagram for an instant mood boost of your own!
Choupette brought peace and quiet to Karl Lagerfeld’s life
If you come across @choupettesdiary on Instagram this week, prepare to be touched by the many condolences left in the comments. Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away yesterday in Paris, left a one-of-a-kind legacy not only as a fashion powerhouse, but as a doting cat “daddy.” Choupette, a 7-year-old Birman, is an icon in her own right, with nearly $4M in annual earnings, but she’s made her most impactful difference by bringing much-needed calm and warmth to Lagerfeld’s hectic life. He told The Cut, “Personally, I have no time [for technology]. I don’t do internet, I don’t do Facebook. I have to sketch, I have to play with Choupette, I have to sleep. The day is too short for that.” She slept next to his pillow and provided a crucial reprieve from the demands of the fashion business. “I like to be quiet, and my cat brings me a presence that counts but does not clutter. She is peaceful, funny, amusing, graceful, she is pretty to look at and she has a beautiful approach, but her main quality is that she does not speak. It was love at first sight,” he told Numero. She is likely mourning the loss of Lagerfeld in her own way, as we know from research that pets are capable of grieving the loss of their human companions.
Bo and Sunny Obama are expert stress relievers in chief
No matter your politics, of all the roles in the Obama administration, Bo and Sunny Obama played two vital ones: stress relievers. “They’re so cute, I just love to just cuddle them and massage them,” Former First Lady Michelle Obama told The Associated Press in 2016. The cuddly appeal of these Portuguese water dogs is far more powerful than it seems. Petting animals is therapeutic for the humans doing the petting as well as the animal who’s loving the attention, lowering stress levels for both and increasing levels of the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which promotes social bonding. Beyond the belly rubs, Bo and Sunny “brought a sense of lightness to everything,” Michelle writes in her memoir, Becoming. Now in their new home in D.C., the fluffy siblings continue to make their powerful owners laugh in many ways, like being confused by the doorbell, and serving as valuable companions in their adjustment to “regular” life.
Meredith and Olivia keep Taylor Swift grounded
Taylor Swift’s “fuzzy daughters,” affectionately named after Olivia Benson of “Law and Order: SVU” and Dr. Meredith Grey of “Grey’s Anatomy,” are the emotional home base Swift returns to after high-octane concerts and award shows. After the Grammys in 2015, she spoke to “ET” about skipping the after-parties in favor of soothing snuggles at home: “I’m going to hang out with my friends, and then I go home to the cats.” Going home to care for your pet is lovely way to decompress after a busy night out. Having a little living being who depends on you to keep their food bowl filled gives us a meaningful sense of responsibility.
Lupo comforted Kate Middleton through Prince William’s overseas deployment
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children make a photogenic family portrait, and rounding out the clan is their beloved dog, Lupo, a black English Cocker Spaniel. When hosting military families for a Christmastime gathering at Kensington Palace late last year, Kate divulged the heartwarming reason behind why they decided to adopt Lupo: to help her cope with William’s six-week deployment in the Falkland Islands in 2012. “As someone whose husband has served, I know how hard it feels when a loved one leaves home to do the job they’ve trained for. When William served in the Falklands or went on search and rescue, I remember how it felt,” she said in a speech. Being away from a loved one can be challenging, even for a relatively brief deployment like William’s, but studies have shown that the reassuring presence and unconditional love of a pet can make an enormous difference for one’s mental and emotional health — especially for children.
Dodger taught Chris Evans what true love looks like
Whoever says love can’t happen at first sight hasn’t seen this video of Chris Evans rescuing his beloved Boxer mix, Dodger, from a shelter. The emotional video of “our first hello,” taken while Evans was filming Gifted at the kennel in 2016, but tweeted last spring on National Pet Day, has been viewed almost 7M times and melted hearts worldwide. Evans and Dodger have since been inseparable, and the mutt continues to offer touching lessons on keeping a positive outlook and appreciating the simple joys in life. “My dog is still a pure, brand new soul, enjoying nonverbal bonds of love and acceptance with pretty much everything,” Evans says.
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