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The Power of Pepper


There was something missing in the Houston home of Norma and Dick Graves during the COVID-19 pandemic. They had always been a dog family, raising their three kids with dogs and enjoying the company of pets. For the previous 10 years, they didn't have a dog because they spent a lot of time traveling in retirement.


Their daughter Julie, a physician, was concerned her parents were too isolated during the pandemic. Julie heard about a puppy who was available for adoption, the runt of the litter. Before long, to the elation of Norma and Dick, Pepper, a Miniature Schnauzer, joined the family.


In the evenings, Pepper eagerly leaps up to snuggle with Dick in the chair as the couple settles in to watch television and unwind. Both Dick and Pepper are content. Norma reflected, “We missed having a dog more than we ever realized. It’s hard to duplicate that unconditional love anywhere else.”


In our household, we agree! Every time we walk into our home, we are covered with love from our two dogs, Boo and Mango. It doesn’t matter the time of day, whether we’re in a rush or have all the time in the world, or what kind of mood we’re in. They are there, ready to greet us and show their love and devotion to the simple fact that we exist.


Spending time with animals is so nourishing, whether it’s petting our furry friends, taking them (and us) on a walk, or just sitting close and being together. Animals help us create routines in our lives and can be a great motivator to get us up to move frequently during the day. When they need to go out, it’s inevitably time for us to get up and stretch, move our bodies, or get a dose of fresh air. What is good for them is good for us! Interacting with animals can have many benefits. We might enjoy playing with our pets and laugh at the funny things they do, but there is more to this story. Being around animals and caring for pets is good medicine, maybe better than medicine. Interacting with animals has been linked to a myriad of benefits, including:


  • Decreased blood pressure

  • Decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol

  • Enhanced mood

  • Decreased loneliness

  • Reduced anxiety and depression

  • Increased feelings of support

  • Enhanced mobility by boosting physical activity


For Norma and Dick, Pepper quickly became one of the family. Julie was right. Pepper helped the couple immensely during the pandemic. Now, every day is better because of Pepper and the incredible joy she brings. “She also loves to play ball,” Dick adds, smiling from ear to ear as he talks about Pepper. For the Graves, Pepper = LOVE. That’s the real power of Pepper.

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