There might be a very practical reason why cat videos, and other furry friends, are so popular. Beyond their hilarity, these YouTube and Facebook stars just might be playing an important (if not subconscious) role for those watching them.

Research suggests that the simple act of owning and loving a pet can have a significant positive impact on a person’s quality of life. Whether you’re a cat lover or a dog lover, that’s good news. It also is probably not a total shock, as pets are often loyal, loving, amusing, and sweet.

When working from home, many professionals aren’t doing so alone. They’re spending time with their best four-legged furry friends. If those with flexible work arrangements are already known to be happier in general, what benefits beyond lower stress levels are there for pet owners?

The Benefits of Flexible Work and Furry Friends:

  • First, they’re more likely to exercise and spend time outdoors. Getting some fresh air and sunlight while walking your dog is a welcome break from staring at a screen for hours on end; in the process, those with energetic pups are boosting their own energy levels.
  • And who knows? Those spins around the neighborhood might lead to a chance meeting. New friendships, business partnerships, and even love interests have blossomed after chats in dog parks and on sidewalks the world over. Isolation and loneliness don’t stand a chance in those circumstances.
  • It’s not necessary to physically bump into someone, however, to be able to bond over pet parenthood. Some remote teams are incorporating pet-related chats and photo sharing as an icebreaker to build stronger working relationships.

Getting to know new people is great and all, but what about spending time with one’s real-life spirit animal? Megumi Reagan, a Dubai-based entrepreneur, can attest to that. She’s working on business development for a soon-to-be-launched meal planning and lifestyle app, The Basket Hub, and is quick to cite the many perks of remote work: flexible hours, location independence, and more lifestyle freedom in general. Yet one stands out among the rest for this owner of a 2-year-old yellow Labrador.

“One perk I’m sure all pet lovers can relate to, my flexible schedule allows me to spend time with my favorite guy in the world—my dog, Kinyoubi,” Reagan said.

If you’re picturing frisbee in the park or a smiling pup en route to a bustling cafe, you’d be right. But Kinyoubi’s owner is just as pleased with the arrangement.

“If you think about it, it’s really great for both of us. Kinyoubi and I get to hang out, clear our heads and go for walks whenever the mood strikes, and spend much-needed time together. Every day is bring your pet to work day, and he and I enjoy working remotely from home, cafes, or wherever appeals to us that day. Gone are the days of needing to request off for an upset puppy stomach (he’s a stereotypical Labrador and will eat anything if antsy), or coming home from my dreaded 9-to-5 job, exhausted and skimping Kinyoubi on walking mileage.”

Byron Delpinal, a developer at Coffee and Code in Akron, Ohio, shares his home office with a couple of felines.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 1.11.01 PM“Working from home when having pets (two cats, to be specific) makes the house feel a little less empty,” Delpinal admits. “It’s nice to have something to interact with, even if it’s not a person. It certainly elevates a good mood, but can also put quite a damper on a frustrating mood.”

There is such a thing as too much face time, it seems.

“It’s very difficult to have an attention seeking cat jump on your desk when you’re in an irritable mood. Unlike coworkers in an office, there’s never an implicit ‘I’m frustrated, I need a minute.'”

As a software developer for an insurance company, Matt Mauschbaugh spends his workdays in St. Louis, Missouri, with a built-in best friend: a golden retriever/Chow Chow mix.

“Working from home with a dog is the best,” Mauschbaugh said. “When you’re having a hard day and just want someone to vent to, he’s right there wagging his tail looking for belly rubs and cuddles. When you’re having a great day, he’s right there with you to walk up to the local pub for an early happy hour on a Friday.”

“My best memory so far is when I was on a 12+-hour day and Huckleberry would jump up on the bed in the other room and then jump down. He did this for about 30 minutes before I finally came and took a power nap with him, which was just what I needed to finish the day. Everyone should have a dog and work from home!”