A recent YouTube video showed an Uber driver who adopted two dogs from a local shelter and began picking up his passengers with his new canine friends in the car. When passengers entered the car, their faces lit up. By the end of their ride, many were either wanting to take the pooches home or casting longing glances upon exit. You couldn’t tell what kind of day they’d had up until that point, but it was apparent the canines had clearly enhanced each rider’s immediate mood. Dogs have the ability to alleviate our adverse emotions and improve our quality of life. The BIG beasts of stress and grief can be tamed by the power of a LITTLE beast, the dog. Becoming a dog parent or what some call a “Dogster” can be part of the solution to some of life’s bigger problems. If this sounds too good to be true, keep reading!
1. DOGS REDUCE STRESS
Anxiety seems to have ruled many hearts and minds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear and isolation partnered in a threatening vendetta to rob people of peace. While having a dog can’t usurp the peace-giving role belonging only to God or wholly solve problems, research does show an increase in the bodies’ stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin, when people interact with dogs. A study conducted through the department of animal science and biotechnology at Azabu University in Japan found that people who spent time with a dog, specifically gazing into its eyes, experienced increased oxytocin levels. Abreast of this phenomenon, some law schools now allow students to de-stress by bringing puppies onto their campuses before exams. Need some calming vibes in your life? Become a dog owner!
2. DOGS EASE GRIEF
Trite solutions and unsolicited advice are usually unwelcomed by sufferers of loss and grief. Friends and neighbors fumble for words and are often unsure just what to say or how to help. Amazingly, however, our canine friends seem inherently designed for tackling times of sorrow. It’s as though they understand what we need- a quiet confidant and a close, accepting chum. When my father passed away in 2019, my daughter experienced the grief of losing her very devoted grandpa, fondly known as “Poppy.” She later confided how deeply comforted she was, in the faith she’d see him again in heaven, and by her attentive, tail-wagging teacup chihuahua, “Reba.” Her Poppy had cared for and played with Reba several times while we were away on family vacations. After his passing, cuddling with Reba brought my daughter comforting memories and closeness to him. Got grief? Consider spending time with a pooch.
3. DOGS IMPROVE GENERAL WELLNESS
While stress and grief are experienced periodically, even people in non-crises stages of life can benefit from the companionship of a dog. According to a Swedish study conducted by Uppsala University, having a dog is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and even overall longevity. One reason for this is that being a Dogster promotes a more active lifestyle. All dogs need exercise, some fresh air, and bits of sunshine. While some prefer running, many pooches will enjoy a leisurely walk through the neighborhood or local park. My daughter directly experienced this benefit with her other canine, an English bulldog named “Nacho.” Instead of the tempting sedentary life, Nacho positively provoked her- to walk and even run. Together, they made strides in fitness and overall wellness. Want better heart health? Become a Dogster.
Not only is science demonstrating the power and benefit of having a little canine beast, but human experience as well. The dark giants of stress, grief, and even poor physical health can be fought and partially subdued via the built-in joy, comfort, and companionship of a loving pooch. Consider adopting a dog today, and prepare to be blessed.