A helping paw

Owning a dog can improve your health


Photo by Rivers Edwards

Households with pets are typically more active. Dogs are known to be the main motivators behind many healthy habits.

Story by Charli Hueter, staff writer

It is two in the morning. Deep within the comfort of your dreams, you are awakened by the sound of heavy breathing. A cold tongue meets the warmth of your nose, and all hopes of returning to sleep flee at the sound of a crisp bark from your fluffy companion. You know it, and he knows it. Only together can the mission be accomplished; human and canine must work in unison to assist one another to the back yard. This frustrating exchange is well-known to dog-owners, but can be a nostalgic affair in retrospect.

“One time I let my dog, Sally, outside and when I looked back outside a few minutes later, I saw nothing but feathers,” sophomore Lia Graham said. “She had found a feather pillow and decided to have a pillow fight, so feathers were everywhere, and she blended right in because she was a white cockapoo. Afterwards, I had to clean it all up, which definitely wasn’t fun, but I wouldn’t forget the memory.”

As much as you may believe your dog is the sole antagonist of your personal well being, it may be time to reconsider their role within the household. Dogs are the primary motivators behind many healthy habits. In truth, they often condition you more than you realize. For family households in particular, building traits evolved through the care of living things is indelibly rewarding. According to a study conducted in 2017 by JoAnna Pendergrass, a doctor of veterinary medicine, children in pet-owning households had better overall health and were more active.

Dogs just seem to know how to get your mind off of any troubles.”

— Lia Graham

“I have had pets all through my lifetime,” Graham said. “Every one had its own personality and quirks. Anytime I think back on memories playing with my new puppy, Henna, or chasing Sally across the yard, I smile.”

Fitness in general–whether for younger or older subjects–was found to correlate positively with having a canine. Dogs are often what motivate those at senior ages to get out and stretch their legs. In fact, those who regularly walk their dogs are less likely to be obese.

Beyond just improving activity levels, dog-ownership also comes with a complicated web of psychological stipulations. Think about the last time you squeezed a stress ball or, out of frustration, spent an entire hour rage-spinning your fidget spinner. Our emotions often seek strange locales for sanctuary due to an innate propensity for tension known as the natural stress response. Holding your soft, fuzzy companion has been proven to combat this sudden elevation in stress rates.

“When I am having a bad day, my standard poodle, Ziggy, can always tell,” Graham said. “He immediately comes to comfort me, and he makes me feel so much better. Dogs just seem to know how to get your mind off of any troubles.”

The next time your dog is demanding attention in the middle of a late night snooze, keep in mind all of the wonderful ways they have benefited your life. Without canines, our world would be a completely different place. Alexander Graham Bell would never have obsessed over sound and vibrations had he not listened to the glorious rapture of his pets. Louie Pasteur opened the research clinic that brought us methods for milk, wine and beer preservation from his work curing rabies on an infected dog. Your dog is a vessel of wholehearted love and inspiration; an addition that may just be life-changing.