This week's Community Column is written by the Rev Christine Murdoch, parish minister at the Church of Scotland's 'Lochside Linkage', in Garelochhead, Rosneath, Cove and Kilcreggan.

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In all the gloomy headlines of late, I was cheered by the story of a lost dog who had been found in Wester Ross, courtesy of a disposable barbecue and some sausages and bacon.

Nell, a collie, had been frightened by a coastguard rescue helicopter from Inverness which had been called out to help her owner.

Two off-duty members of the local Dundonnell mountain rescue team returned to the scene the next day, fired up their barbecue and used the smell to lure the lost dog out of her hiding place, and soon reunited Nell with her owner.

READ MORE: Heart-warming story of Oscar – the Cardross dog coping with spinal disease

I understand the importance of pets. Not only do they provide us with companionship, according to recent research, having a pet is good for your health.

Apparently we interact with our animal companions in the same way we do with human companions, and so those relationships can improve our self-esteem and lower our stress levels.

And it’s not just about the extra exercise we may benefit from when out walking a dog. Just sitting stroking a cat can reduce our heart rate and lower our blood pressure.

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we read that God made animals to be partners and companions for man. That relationship is not one of power, but of friendship.

READ MORE: Kitten found hiding under car bonnet at Helensburgh garage – 100 miles from home

God in wisdom knew that animal companions would be good for us, and that in turn, we should be good to them.

I wonder if the NHS has ever considered prescribing an animal companion to reduce stress or blood pressure?

Of course this column could not possibly be a Covid-19 free zone. All I am going to say is keep safe and look out for those who are vulnerable at this time.

While social visits may now have been banned, a phone call will go a long way to help break the monotony of isolation. And I am quite sure you know of someone who would welcome a bag of shopping.

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