This week, we’ve been asking the Community about the benefits of pets. We’ve really enjoyed putting this piece together and it’s clear to see our pets mean so much to us. They can be our most loyal companions, our shoulder to lean on and an ever-lasting source of comfort and love. It’s been so lovely to see all of the responses we received and I’ve no doubt you’ll all love them too.

'We had never had a dog before and had always planned to get one when we retired. Retirement plans were sadly brought forward for us upon my husband's diagnosis 4 years ago but we decided to put our retirement plans into action instead of on hold and we found our adorable Milo.

Milo has been a total godsend for all of our family.  He is definitely my husband's dog and they are inseparable sharing walkies everyday which improves physical and emotional health.

For me, the crazy cockapoo welcome I get on my return from work is the perfect antidote from the strains of the most stressful day.

We all love him to bits and look forward to getting our second pup when I finally get out of the rat race and retire too!' -

'When I was first diagnosed, my life was thrown up in the air and completely changed. I went from going out to work each day, as well as going out 2 or 3 times a week socialising or exploring, to sitting in my living room and sleeping in my bed 24/7. As so often happens after a cancer diagnosis, supposed friends vanished, my partner left me, and it seemed I was forgotten about. 

For a year I lived like that, only really leaving the house to go into hospital to stay or just for an appointment or three - and I could tell that my mental health was suffering. Something needed to change, and I knew what that was. I needed a pet. 

I've had cats in the past, and I knew that's what I wanted again. So after a search and a half I managed to find a 4 month old brother and sister bonded pair that no-one else seemed to want. So January 2014, they came to live with me and my mood and outlook brightened almost immediately. December 2016 saw a third join us, a 2 month old little boy to give my 3 year old boy a wrestle buddy. 

My cats provide me with company, love, entertainment, and purpose. It's hard to stay in bed feeling sorry for yourself when there's a boy licking your face and shouting at you because he wants his breakfast. It's hard to feel too sad when there's a girl gently stroking your face with her paw, to show you what you should be doing to her. And it's impossible to feel down when there's a chirruping hoolie with a tail like a fox, ears flattened to his head, eyes huge and black, bombing around like the devil himself is chasing him. 

So why are pets great? Because without them, I don't know if I'd still be here, and if I were I'd not be as upbeat as I am!' -

'My partner is dying, we are at the end of life stage with hospice at home and a range of really valuable and helpful professional support. 

Alongside this are our two dogs.  Bad breath, rather dim, shedding fur, small and friendly. Over the past year they have helped me and my partner cope with what is a very sad and difficult situation. Even on days when he can’t even stand or get comfortable, it only takes one of them to do something ridiculous and we are laughing. 

People have asked if they are behaving strangely because of my partners illness - I don't think so. 

They love it that there is someone always at home  - more chance of an early dinner.  They love the parade of health professionals to try and get as close to as possible, especially one hospice nurse who didn't seem to mind one sitting on her lap.  The house is really warm so they are very comfortable, and I take them out to help clear my head. I hold onto them when I am frightened. 

I would be lost without them. They don't ask questions, they don't give advice, they just simply gaze at us. I think there is a lot to be said for that and a lot to learn from that.' -

'My dog Taska is not only my friend, she's my carer (assistance dog). She's always there by my side, her gentle support ever present. In addition to the physical tasks, she is the perfect confidante! She makes me smile, gives me confidence and makes everything so much easier.' -

'This girl makes sure I get up every morning and keeps me fit with long walks, rain or shine.' -

Thanks to everyone who shared their pet-love with us this week. Lover of pets? Why not share with us in the comments section below.