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Dog Owners ARE Happier

My dear friend recently lost her mother and while she has been on the fence about getting dog for the past year – she and her family have wanted one, but never thought it was the right time – she bit the bullet and got a dog last week. When she asked if I thought it was a good idea to get a dog – now – I said I didn’t think now, while she was grieving, was a good time to complicate her life with the addition of a new family member. She needed to care for herself, I told her, and make things simpler and easier, not harder. Well, she got the dog. He is an adorable 9 week old puppy and is bringing joy to my friend’s life during a dark time. She has something positive to focus on, is forced to go out into the sunshine for walks, and has order to her days.

Research shows that dog owners are happier and healthier than non-dog owners. They are more physically active as there is no getting out of walking your dog – it is part of taking care of your pet’s basic needs. Dog owners are more social – when you have a dog, there is an immediate topic of  conversation. You automatically have something in common with other dog owners, and contact with others is a mood elevator. Dog owners are less depressed – a dog’s no-strings-attached companionship is a stress reliever. Dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure – just the act of petting a dog has been shown to relax people. Research also shows that having a dog in your household can help children’s immune systems  – you are less likely to have allergy problems as an adult if you grow up with a dog.

Nursing homes bring dogs in to visit with their residents as they see a marked positive impact. Dogs are used in therapy with children to help them open up about their problems. Therapy dogs canvased New York after 9/11 to support people involved in the aftermath.

Dogs provide unconditional love, like you rarely experience. My friend, the new dog owner, said she knew on paper that now wasn’t the most ideal time to get a dog, but she wanted, needed something to help fill the hole in her heart; this puppy is helping her heal. Thank goodness for dogs.

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Rachael Ray