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For the Love of a Dog
Dogs provide benefits. Perhaps that is why 44 % of homes in the U.S. already have one. Many say dogs require a huge amount of responsibility, can be messy, and are expensive. I’ll admit those things are true. However if a person understands the commitment of dog ownership, it’s the best investment she/he can make.
According to Renee Jacques, Associate Viral Content Editor at the Huffington Post, “a 2009 study by Mino Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan found that one’s level of oxytonin (the neurohormone that elicits the feeling of happiness) was raised intensely after interacting with dogs. And the only interaction needed was to look into their eyes… Karen Walker, a psychologically professor at the University of Buffalo, performed a series of tests that proved dogs help reduce people’s everyday stress.” In other words, Jacques proves that a person’s happiness neurohormone is raised and blood pressure is lowered when they interact with a dog. Whenever I am around dogs, I feel happier and calmer from by looking at them.
Many people are now using dogs to calm or comfort children in medical or legal situations, as well. Walker had people count backwards by three from a high number with a dog in the room and without a dog in the room. Their blood pressure was lowered with a dog in the room. Mary Jalongo, PhD, administered a test to kids where they had to read in front of a classmate, adult, and dog. The children were less stressed reading to a dog. In Homans’ study, he cited a Japanese study found that elderly people who walk a dog daily have enhanced heart rate variability, which is connected to stress reduction.
An article on the Huffington Post written by Renee Jacques on February 3, 2014 states, “A recent study at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that people who have strong connections to their pets also have social and relationship benefits.” The researchers surveyed 500, eighteen to twenty-six year olds. They found that people feeling more connected to their community and relationships, had pets. They also found that a person was more empathetic and confident if they had a strong attachment to pets. In other words, the closer a person is with their pet, the more confident, empathetic, and associated to their community they are.
In fact, when a person walks a dog in public, more people are likely to say hi. These experiences could affect the rest of their life, as was the case with seventy-one year old Emma Cooper. Cooper was out walking her dog and a man gave him a pet. They started talking about dogs and next thing you know they were getting married.
Another example of the positive benefits of dog ownerships is a study done by Dog’s Trust, which found that out of 7700 people, 60% said that owning a dog made a person more attractive. Eighty-five percent said it made a person more approachable.
In another study done by Dr. Jalongo, kids were asked what less popular children could accomplish to make more friends. The most common answer was buy a pet. Dr. Jalongo says this is because a pet gives kids something to talk about. This makes since. People can make friends by just talking about things and bonding over them. A pet would work in this case.
According to Perri Klass, M.D., “Researchers are looking at a range in questions, in normal childhood development, childhood obesity, traumatized children, and autism.” What Klass is saying here is that dogs can provide many perks to a person’s health. I find this very fascinating, especially because one of my classmates has eczema, and she told me, “When I got a dog my eczema mostly cleared up.” Why this is, is unclear.
Another example of health benefits from dog is a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that owning a dog lowers cholesterol and triglycerides—a high level of which can increase your chance of developing heart disease. Heart disease is a serious issue. A dog helping with heart disease is very important and I think if you are at risk of developing heart disease you should get a dog.
I also know that if a person owns a dog she/he is four times less likely to be diagnosed as depressed and that the NIH found that walking a dog regularly means you’re less likely to turn out to be obese.
Another fact I learned is that a dog’s nose can smell substances up to a million times better than a human’s. This is why dogs can detect cancer and help prevent kids from eating or being around stuff they’re allergic to, like peanuts.
All throughout my childhood I’ve wanted a dog—I still do. I’ve begged my parents for one, and the answer is always the same,” no; we already had one.” It doesn’t seem fair, because he died before I was two, so I don’t remember him. I thought that owning a dog would teach me about responsibility, but after writing this essay, I realize it’s deeper than that. Dogs help with a person’s empathy, confidence, social life, happiness, stress, loneliness, self-esteem, health, and strengthen family bonds. I hope that after my parents read my essay, the next time I ask them if I can have a dog, the answer will be yes.