When my aunt and uncle ran a bookstore years ago, a big black cat named Percy roamed the store at will. Customers petted him, and his presence added a down-home feel to the place.
Animals can provide even greater gifts in other environments. Take, for instance, what they do for people struggling in nursing homes. As Therapy Dogs International reports, dogs who visit residents there provide a link that'd otherwise be missing in the residents' lives.
"It is profoundly moving to see how dogs have the ability to help calm and soothe agitated individuals while lifting the spirits of those who are sad and lonely," the agency's website says. "They provide a medium for physical touch and display affection for those who have lived isolated lives. The mere presence of a dog raises the spirits of a person and the petting and touching of the fur allows one to have a wonderful object toward which to express their affection."
Something similar could be said of pets' importance to people who are homeless. They serve as their masters' friends, companions and alert systems.
Called to our attention by an animal lover in our community, our window into the world of the homeless and their pets is a fitting tribute to the power of love, albeit interspecies love, as we approach Valentine's Day.