Dogs are more than furry couch companions, home protectors, or hiking partners. Pet owners and prospective dog owners know that dogs require a substantial amount of care and attention, but often fail to notice a dog's many gifts. Everything in life requires trade-offs. In the grand scheme of things, the rewards of owning a dog far outweigh the care and attention involved. Take a moment and consider five ways owning a dog improves your life.
Dogs improve owner moods. In light of an instinctive dog's unconditional love and loyalty, it is easy to see why he can turn around even the worst of days. When it seems that the world is against me, I can always count on Max the dog to greet me with excitement, a kiss ready smile, and a wagging tail. It is hard to remain depressed and grumpy in the face of a happy hound dog.
Dogs force exercise. Dog owners know that dogs thrive on exercise. Even if it is only a stroll to the end of the street and back, dogs inspire fitness. Certainly, heading out to a snowy sidewalk creates some dread, but I head out anyway because of necessity. Exercise is a terrific, stress reliever and is vital to long-term health.
Dogs force face-to-face socialization. I have met most of my neighbors through my dogs. Happy dogs have a way of making people smile. Smiling people appear friendlier and open to conversation. I cannot remember a walk that did not lead to positive social interactions with a neighbor or another dog owner at a dog park or a hiking trail. With social networking and digital media, succumbing to unhealthy isolation is too easy. A dog pulls owners out of the house and away from the computer into a face to face world.
Dogs are companions-not just pets. After my grandmother's death, my grandfather was extremely lonely. Worsening his loss, he had also suffered a stroke that affected his speech and further isolated him from normal social relationships. Adopting a dog gave him a loving, constant companion who did not need to understand his every word. He was healthier and caring for the dog made him feel useful again. Dogs offer incredible, unconditional relationships that combat loneliness and fill critical, emotional needs.
Dogs improve owner's health. As mood elevators and exercise partners, dogs keep owners moving and motivated. Additionally, therapists and health professionals use the healing power of dogs in a range of settings from ADHD treatment to cancer therapy. Some dogs are even specially trained for work in assisting those with chronic conditions or disabilities so that they may live independently.