If you are a dog lover, you can’t imagine living without one. You also can’t imagine how anyone else could live without one either. Don’t they realize that they are missing one of the true joys of life? Don’t they know how much better their life would be with a loving four-footed companion to share both their joys and their sorrows?
Maybe they just need a little reminding. Let’s do it!
1. Your Dog Makes You Happy
There was a pop song years ago called Happiness Is...Different Things to Different People. True enough, but as any dog lover will tell you, happiness is a dog. Just looking at one, especially a puppy, brings a smile to your face. Staring into his eyes raises your level of oxytocin, that powerful hormone often called “the love hormone.” Not only is oxytocin an antidote to depression, but also the hormone that underlies feelings of trust and wellbeing. Besides, who else loves you unconditionally? Who else is thrilled beyond reason to see you every time you come in the door – even if you only went out long enough to collect the mail? If you are an older person living alone, or someone who is physically challenged and spends most of your time at home, your dog makes you feel less lonely.
2. Your Dog Relieves Your Stress
Studies have shown that playing with your dog, or even just stroking him, calms you down when you’re feeling anxious, upset, angry, or stressed. Your breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure go down almost immediately. Your muscles relax and your tensions dissipate. In addition, your dog can be a great help in getting you through times of grief, such as when a family member or dear friend dies or moves far away.
3. Your Dog Keeps Your Heart Healthy
A study of 369 heart attack patients published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that one year after being released from the hospital, dog owners had a much higher survival rate than their dogless cohorts. Again, this had to do with the relief of stress, one of the major causes of cardiovascular problems The researchers concluded that the amazing bond between a person and his or her dog results in a healthier heart.
4. Your Dog Can Keep You Healthy in Other Ways, Too
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, far greater than that of humans. If you’re a diabetic, consider getting a dog that has been trained to alert you when your blood sugar level is getting low. Or if you and/or your kids are allergic to peanuts, consider getting a dog that has been trained to detect the slightest trace of peanuts anywhere in a room. Other dogs have been trained to sniff out various types of cancer.
5. Your Dog Keeps You Physically Fit
Another study, this one in Canada, found that people who own a dog walk more than twice as much in a week’s time as people without a dog. If that’s true in Canada, where walking can be a real problem during the long, cold, snow-filled winter, how much truer must it be for those of us living in more temperate climates? Those daily walks with your dog are as good for you as they are for him. In addition, if you happen to be a jogging, hiking, or cycling enthusiast, having a joyful companion trotting or running alongside you increases your pleasure.
6. Your Dog Makes You a More Caring Person
There’s something about a dog’s face, and especially a puppy’s face, that makes them irresistible to humans and makes people want to take care of them. Fulfilling this caregiving instinct makes you a happier, more satisfied, and more content person.
7. Your Dog Helps You Be More Social
It’s amazing how many new friends you make while walking your dog or spending a few hours with him at the dog park. A study undertaken by researchers at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine showed that people with a strong attachment to their dog feel more connected to other people as well. In addition, teenagers and Millennials who grew up with a dog are more confident and empathetic than those who did not.
8. Your Dog Enhances Your Love Life
If you’re single, your dog makes it easier for you to meet potential love interests. You don’t even have to do it in person. In these days of online dating sites, adding to your profile the fact that you have a dog and maybe including a picture or two of you and your dog makes you more approachable and shows that you are a caring, empathetic person. Besides, how cool is it to meet another confirmed dog lover online and start spending delightful foursomes together?
If you’re one of those poor unfortunates who has never experienced the delights of owning a dog, it’s not too late. Thousands of dogs languish in animal shelters waiting to find their forever homes. Just because they wound up in a shelter doesn’t mean that they’re unhealthy or mean. They’re not. They’re just poor unfortunates, too. Adopting one of them could be the best thing you ever did, both for him and for yourself.
“But I can’t have a dog,” you say, “I have allergies.” No problem. Just get a hypoallergenic breed. While no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, many breeds have non-shedding coats that produce far less dander. It’s the pet dander attached to dog hair that most people are allergic to. Hypoallergenic breeds include the following:
In addition, such “designer dogs” as Cockapoos, Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Peckapoos, Pomapoos, Schnoodles, and Yorkipoos also are hypoallergenic. You can tell from their names that they’re deliberate poodle mixes, as opposed to being the results of accidental backyard breedings.
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