5 Reasons Why Having A Pet is Good For Your Health

There are many benefits to animals for residing with us in our homes, but did you know that having a pet is also good for your health? Unconditional love and companionship in and of itself is accompanied by many benefits, but there are other reasons why owning a pet can give you a health boost! Mental and emotional improvements are just a couple of them -- check out the following five ways that owning a pet might be beneficial to your health. Some of them might surprise you!

1. Lower rates of depression. It might not come as a surprise that owning a pet increases a person’s sense of purpose. This can be integral for someone feeling depressed or who is lacking interest in their usual activities. Pet Therapy exists for a reason! Owning a pet might help you conquer depression and general feelings of being down.

2. Decreased risk of allergies. It might seem counterintuitive, but spending time with pets has been shown to lower a child’s risk of developing allergies. Other studies show that children exposed to pets early on in life tend to have more stealthy immune systems overall. Having healthier kids is always a win!

3. Higher social interaction. Did you know that there are meet-up groups geared towards pet parents of all different types of animals? Yes, even turtles. Getting out of the house to walk your dog or take him or her to the dog park also gives you more opportunities to interact with others. Humans are naturally social creatures, and a lot of people find that their social lives and networks naturally increase as a result of being a pet parent.

4. Increased physical activity. If you’re a dog owner, you’re more likely to get outside and throw a frisbee, go for a run, or even just take a walk around the neighborhood. The cardio boost will bring other benefits, such as increased heart health, lower blood pressure, and decreased cholesterol levels.

5. Lower stress levels. Having a sense of purpose combined with increased physical activity and social interaction can have some fantastic benefits, the main one being decreased stress levels! Lowering cortisol has a profound impact on your overall health and well-being.

What do you think, pet parents? Were you surprised by these benefits?


Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile. 

Dog Portrait Fun in Austin {Austin Texas Pet and Children Portrait Photographer}

Meet my new "boyfriend" Eddie–he's a rockstar dog (terrier mix) here in Austin and I was lucky enough to meet and photograph him with his owners Rebecca and Daniel.  The newlywed couple had just moved to a new house and were still getting settled so we decided to photograph in their neighborhood park area. Let me just say that Eddie and I had an instant bond. There was a great deal of jumping, panting, and other displays of excitement which indicated that he was more than excited to meet me. These types on introductions never get old. Eddie, being the free spirit he is, needed to stay mostly on leash when we were in the park areas, which actually worked out perfectly for the session. The cold temperatures of the day were no match for the efforts of our team as all three of them were complete troopers. This Texas weather seems to change at the drop of a...cowboy hat? I'm learning not to make any final decisions about postponing sessions until I'm actually on location.

We all had a grand time during this session and I loved played around with different posing and locations within the outdoor areas. While I feel that any and all times are excellent for having professional portraits created I honestly feel this was an important time for this young couple to have their portraits created here in Austin with their beloved dog.

Until we meet again, Eddie.


Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

Maternity Portraits with your dog in Austin, Texas {Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM children and pet photographer}

I recently had the fortune of creating maternity portraits for a couple and their dog here in Austin, Texas. We had a fun outdoor location in mind in Austin, but the weather wasn't cooperating. As a result, I ended up photographing Ashley and her husband Brad and their genuinely perfect and chocolate lab, Muddy, in their home. Ashley and Brad are expecting their first baby in March and they couldn't have been more excited to capture this special time in their lives; a time of hope and boundless anticipation. (After all, it won't be just the three of them for much longer!) The home location, Ashley later expressed to me, was vastly more meaningful and personal to them and shared with me that she was glad we had held the session in that environment. Brad had purchased his little girl some cowgirl boots and tiny slippers that he wished to incorporate into the session and I gladly collaborated with him on it. I know for a fact that this couple will look at the images taken from this session and remember just how they felt on that day, during that specific time in their lives. That's powerful to me. I love that they wanted images of their dog with them in their home as they consider her to be part of their family. They know that their home will change throughout the years as will their family and they value having these professional images created for them.  I even got to photograph their dog on the red chair that had been in Brad's family for generations. I know that meant a great deal to him. They invested in several large wall pieces that are now hanging in their home.

So–here's to Brad, Ashley, and Muddy. Wishing them all the best as they invite their new daughter into their lives, very shortly!



"We really enjoyed having Norah come into our home and take pictures of our growing family.  She is incredibly talented in capturing the personal qualities in our home with the focus still remaining on our family and dog, Muddy.  When reviewing our proofs and after purchasing several canvases and prints, we were so glad we decided to host the session at home.  We created memories and photos that are very personal to us and that we will treasure for many, many years to come. Norah is an incredibly skilled photographer and we are thrilled with the outcome of this session! "–Ashley and Brad:  Austin, Texas

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

Austin Pet Portrait Session with Elvis! {Pet and Children Photographer, Austin, TX and Santa Fe, NM}

On a recent portrait session in Austin I photographed Iliana, Bill and Elvis- an spritely border terrier with a faux hawk like no other dog in town. What a fun session! Iliana and Bill are a delightful, newly married couple and their dog Elvis has more character that you could imagine. I love his scruffy hair and eyebrows and the way Iliana and Bill stare admiringly into his chocolate brown eyes. We started our session outdoors at the dog park adjacent to their neighborhood. It was a fenced in area and proved to be a delightful spot for images. Iliana and Bill take their dog to this park often and he was obviously in his element there. When I spoke with Iliana about her goals for her session she said that she really wanted the images to portray her life with Bill and Elvis as it is right at this moment... she knows life will change (perhaps a few members will be added) and that Elvis is like a child to them. We moved the session indoors and photographed the three of them on their living room couch inside their apartment. Since the space was fairly dark and the day was cloudy, I set up my lighting equipment. I love to photograph with natural light, but I also fancy the clean look and versatility of a soft, studio generated light source. After I had my lighting set, I focused my attention on the connection and love being shared.

Thank you for choosing me to photograph your amazing family here in Austin, Iliana and Bill!

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

This Cat's Meow {Pet photographer, Austin, TX}

I was recently asked to photograph Molly— a stunningly beautiful white cat, for the 2012 Austin Humane Society Alumni Calendar. Molly was adopted from the Austin Humane Society by her owners who absolutely adore her. This cat is not only exquisite to gaze upon and photograph with her gorgeous white coat and her multi-colored eyes, but also has a very sweet demeanor. I photographed Molly at her home in Austin and upon entering the door I immediately noticed the gorgeous dining room table and luscious green painted walls. The light was soft and subtle and I loved the way the green of the background accentuated her greenish-yellow eye. I've been a professional pet photographer for several years now. The opportunities for commissioned photographs of cats have been fewer than dogs for some reason. I love the different challenges that arise when working with cats, as well as having the chance to bond with these unique animals. I adore cats (I have three!) and appreciated being asked to photograph Molly.

I extend much gratitude to the Austin Humane Society for their tremendous support for the animals and the community here in Austin and beyond. Please support THEM by purchasing 2012 calendars!

Norah Levine is an Austin based children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

What truly matters: your loved ones (yes, even gerbils!)

My heart goes out to all those affected by the fires here in Texas–the people and the animals. At the bottom of this post I have included information provided by the local news station for many ways to donate to the victims of the fires. During times like these I think we'd all agree that our focus should be on what's truly important in our lives: our loved ones ....................................

I was recently commissioned by a client to photograph her daughter, Karen and grandson, Eli during a visit to her home in Santa Fe, NM. Karen was quite lovely and definitely a little shy about being photographed. My favorite images were taken when she and her son were side by side; forgetting about the camera and sharing a moment together. The two of them seemed to have an extremely close bond: one a mother and child share that is like no other. I photographed them in an outside area where the light seemed to make their skin glow. In addition to Karen's mom cherishing these images of her daughter and grandson together, I know that Karen and Eli will both be thankful to have these photographs for many reasons.

I also photographed Eli as he played with his grandmother's chocolate lab Nick, underneath this old adobe structure on the property. This boy adores this dog and I just loved this little grouping of images in sequence of the two of them.

As a portrait photographer who specializes in images of children and pets, I have met some amazing and unique children and animals. This was admittedly, my very first experience photographing a pet gerbil. This gerbil (named "Whitey") is probably one of the most well traveled gerbils in the world as he traveled by plane from New Orleans to Santa Fe. He was very sweet and even more special was the way Eli loved him and that he was ecstatic about being photographed with his special friend. I am certainly available to photograph most any pet and I was glad to have the experience of photographing the connection between Eli and his pet gerbil.


May you and your loved ones stay safe and enjoy the time you have with one another each day!

Warmest wishes.

Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com

The following information is being shared from kvue.com as it was posted on 9-5-11


AUSTIN -- As wildfires continue to burn in Central Texas, there are several ways to help out the victims and donate.

  • The Thrift Shop at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection is accepting donations for victims. The shop at 2008 Justin Lane will take donations of clothing, house wares and toiletries, which will be taken to distribution centers.
  • To help the families affected by the Steiner Ranch fire, Austin Christian Fellowship is taking donations of bottled water, sports drinks, non-perishable snacks, toiletries, work gloves, heavy duty trash bags, flashlights, batteries and pet food. Donations can be taken to 6401 River Place Boulevard.
  • Collections are also being taken in the Liberty Hill area. You can call Chuck Licata at 512-466-7751 to help.
  • Anyone in Hays County hoping to volunteer or donate water and food for firefighters or evacuees can contact Volunteer Coordinator Lidia Contreras at 512-393-7302.
  • The OASIS on Lake Travis has announced it will be a drop off point for the Austin/Bastrop fire victims. The restaurant is accepting donations as well as water, work gloves, toiletries, non-perishable food items, clothing, trash bags, and flashlights with batteries. Boxes and donation jars will be in the lobby area starting Monday afternoon.
  • The Austin Disaster Relief Network is currently assisting victims of the fires. Organizers say donations of food and clothing can be taken to any local food bank or charity.
  • Cash donations should be made directly to the Red Cross of Central Texas.
  • Catholic Charities of Central Texas will accept donations for wildfire victims on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Donations can be brought to the Diocese of Austin Pastoral Center at 6225 Highway 290 East from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations will also be accepted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Catholic Charities of Central Texas in Austin at 1817 East Sixth Street. Organizers are asking for donations of the following items:
  • Medical Supplies
• BP Cuff
• Nebulizer
• Thermometer
• Glucometer
• Pen lights
• Tongue Depressors
• Ibuprofen
• Gauze Wrap
• ACE Bandages
• Neosporin Cream 
• Bandages

Other Supplies:
• Sleeping Bags
• Blankets
• Pillows
• Towels
• Shampoo
• Body wash
• Toothpaste
• Paper Plates, Cups, Napkins, Plastic Utensils
• Deodorant Sprays for men and women
• Disposable Razors
• Shaving Cream
• Baby Wipes
• Size 4 Diapers
• Baby Shampoo
• Sanitizer

Old English Sheepdog Portraits

Meet my new friends–Addy, a loving, sensitive and sweet Old English Sheepdog, and Ellen, Addy's kind-hearted owner and friend. Together they make a fantastic duo. They're close, close companions to one another and it was quite obvious from the moment I met them on the day of their portrait session that these two are a special pair.  I enjoyed our time together very much and just fell in love with Addy's long, beautiful hair that covered her dark brown eyes and her panting pink tongue. It was heart warming to photograph Addy and Ellen together because their strong connection to one another really showed through in the imagery. We worked both indoors and outdoors with natural light and studio lighting and I am excited to have made two new friends. I custom designed an amazing album filled with all of Ellen's favorite images from the session and she was thrilled with it. She also ordered a large fine art canvas of her and Addy together for her wall. I'm so excited that she'll have these images with her dog to treasure for many years to come.

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Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com