“Dogs are not our whole life but they make our lives whole.” ~ Roger Caras
Rescues Bailey and Logan are integral to my life. As my current companions and with other Labs before them, their presence has awakened me to some amazing canine awareness. For example, according to Dr. Peggy McCardle, of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “There is mounting evidence that dogs and other companion animals such as horses can promote psychological and physical health benefits in their owners.” This is probably not surprising to many of you.
Lately, I have learned that dogs:
1) Empathize with Human Pain. As reported in livescience.com, a Goldsmiths College (London) study showed more dogs will approach someone who is crying or in distress than someone who is not. This shows that dogs are empathetic and are eager to help comfort pain in humans.
2) Reduce Work Stress. The International Journal of Workplace Management has discovered that workers who bring their dogs to the office have less stress and are happier with their jobs, simply because the dog is hanging around. Yes, working from a home office has its benefits. 🙂
3) Detect Low Blood Sugar. A Queen’s University (Belfast) study found that a dog’s sense of smell can also detect low blood sugar in diabetic humans. They are trained to alert the person that their sugar has dropped or, if a diabetic attack has already occurred, will bark incessantly in an attempt to alert somebody to come help, thus helping their owners stay healthy and saving diabetics’ lives.
4) Help Veterans Overcome PTSD. Smithsonianmag.com reports that simply by being themselves, dogs have been shown to help reduce PTSD among soldiers. In addition to providing usual canine companionship, they help sufferers come out of their shells, be less numb and angry, and improve their social life as well. I have seen this first-hand as my neighbor has been working with service dogs and vets with PTSD for over two years. It’s amazing what these dogs do with and for their humans.
5) Reduce Your Risk of Heart Problems. Researchers at Baker Medical Research Institute (Melbourne), have found that pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels across the board regardless of their smoking habits, diet, body mass index, or income level. Preliminary studies by the American Heart Association are revealing that dog owners have less risk of heart disease than those without dogs. The reasons given are the exercise that owners get when walking their dogs, plus the presence of the dog helps the owner deal with stress better.
6) Help People with Dementia Live a Better Life. Dogs have shown that they can help keep dementia sufferers on schedule, reminding them when it’s time for medicine and when to see the doctor. When owners experience frustration over the state of their mind, the “dementia dog” is right there to support and remind them that someone is always there for them.
As we continue to age (or as my friend Dr. Glenn Miya prefers, “As time passes by”), you may want to consider a dog as more than just a loyal companion. Unconditionally giving and loving, s/he could become your new furry doctor… and they will certainly bring you more joy than a fox, mink or sable.