There’s an incredible story circulating on the internet about a seven-year old German Shepherd in Italy and its devotion to its owner (watch this one-minute video).
It made me think, what makes us so devoted to our dogs and pets? I think the answer is simple. They are devoted to us, and like children, they give us unconditional love. They also instinctively know when we need comfort or companionship. Whether we’re laid up in bed sick with the flu, in tears after an emotional day, or curled up on the couch enjoying a coffee on a snowy Sunday morning, they are always there by our side. (Even now as I write this, I say Murphy’s name and he starts thumping his tail, raises his head, looks up at me with his big brown eyes and groans in contentment.)
Studies show that pet owners tend to be happier people. Pet owners exhibit greater self-esteeem, are more physically fit, less lonely, more conscientious and socially outgoing, and have healthier relationship styles. I swear that my father lived longer because of our old dog, Bailey.
Most hospitals or long-term care facilities have programs where they bring dogs in to visit with the residents, and there have been some inspirational stories about the positive effects dogs have with children with autism. From a practical standpoint, they are also one of the best home security systems you could ever have (I used to work for a home and property insurer, and I can unofficially tell you we’d rarely get claims of stolen goods from houses where there was a dog.)
Yes, dogs are incredible creatures.
This week’s Happy Act is to hug a dog (or cat if you have one). If you don’t have a dog, offer to take a neighbour’s dog for a walk, or better yet, drop in to your local animal shelter. Most animal shelters are looking for volunteers to help exercise their clients. And when you’re finished, don’t forget to give them a big hug and a pet. Leave a comment, what do you love about your pet?