The lives of celebrities may appear glamorous and full of glitz to the common man. They very well may be, but the hectic shoot schedules, the gruelling workouts and the discipline that they have to maintain to achieve such a larger-than-life look, often go unnoticed. The same is true for sports stars, on whose shoulders the hope and spirit of the entire country often rests.
And to keep up with the demands and expectations of a high life, it is important that they stick to a stress buster, be it yoga, just the habit of unwinding with a book, or, what seems to be the most popular choice — a lovable canine friend whose unconditional love evaporates all the stress from our stars’ bodies, minds and souls. Take Anushka Sharma, M.S. Dhoni, Saina Nehwal and Virat Kohli for example. Their social media posts starring and focussing on their adorable pets are endearing. When the stars are with their four-legged best friends, it seems like the world around them disappears. They enjoy themselves to the fullest and in the process, get refreshed to face another challenging day.
Ace badminton player Saina Nehwal doesn’t hold anything back when asked to talk about her relationship with her lovable pooch. She says, “I have a five-year-old male Shih Tzu named Chopsi. We brought him when he was just 20-days-old, so I’ve developed a very close bond with him. He definitely helps me relax after a tough day of training. For example, when I’m back from a session and I take off my shoes and socks, he immediately comes and licks my feet, as if to comfort me.
“He plays hide and seek with me and I really enjoy it! When he can’t find me, he just starts barking loudly. It’s so much fun. He’s smart and foolish at the same time. I would be hiding right behind the door that’s in front of him and he still doesn’t find me,” explains an amused Saina, and continues, “So, he truly is a big stress buster for me. I play with him every day for about 10 to 15 minutes, and at night as well. He’s so cute. Every morning, he comes out and sees me off to my academy. In the evening, he recognises the sound of my car and comes out to greet me and play with me till I take him back home.”
From the movie world, actress Pranitha Subhash shares cute stories about her dog. “I always wanted a puppy and I kept telling everyone that if they ever wanted to surprise me, it should be with a dog. One fine day, my wish finally came true! A friend of mine brought me a beautiful husky which was over a month old... I named him Blu because he has blue eyes. I think he definitely helps me relieve my stress after a hectic day. There’s nothing better than coming home to the bundle of joy galloping towards you, wagging its tail, waiting to greet you. Even if I performed my worst during a busy day of shooting, I could be feeling terrible about myself, but the way Blu sees me never changes! He’s always happy to see me, no matter what. He follows me everywhere. Even when I’m in a shower, he’ll wait for me at the bathroom door. It may be only for a few hours that I’m away, but he receives me as if it’s been ages since he saw me!”
Clinical psychologist Aarathi Selvan goes deeper into the therapeutic effect that pets usually create in people’s lives. “There is something called animal assisted therapy, where a dog would just sit in front of the client along with the counsellor and just listen to them. Just the presence of the dog has a very calming effect on the person. Humans have a tendency to mirror others. The same thing happens with dogs. When you’re really stressed, just petting a lazy labrador or playing with a hyper puppy will either calm you or energise you,” she explains.
Notably, even universities are using pets these days to help their students out with exam stress, social anxiety and other lifestyle issues such as PCOS, etc. Dr Vidya Yervadekar, the principal director of Symbiosis International University, Pune, has adopted dogs for many Symbiosis campuses and hostels.
Col C.V. Mohan (Retd), Senior Campus Administrator, Symbiosis, Viman Nagar Campus, talks about the initiative. “We got two labradors, Euro and Yen into the girls hostel in 2016 because of the concept of pet therapy. Students these days are extremely stressed, due to various reasons — be it examinations, peer pressure or family problems. Here in the hostel, the dogs are free to roam about and the girls spend time with them in the lawns, just sitting with them or playing ball with them. Students have told me that the place is much better with the dogs and that it does help them de-stress after a long day at college,” he reveals. It is no wonder that they truly are a man’s best friend!