Does Your Dog Make You Happier?

I was reading an article the other day that I came across on the opinion page of the New York Times. It is interesting as it presents a collection of articles that show mixed results  as far as the health benefits of owning a pet dog.

For instance a Pew Research Report shows that pet owners are just as likely to be very happy as those without pets of any sort. And if just cats and dogs are considered the results are pretty much the same.

In fact there is one Finnish study that demonstrated a statistically significant difference between pet owners and non-pet owners. It wasn’t quite what I expected. Surprisingly, migraine and asthma was associated with pet ownership and this particular study also failed to show the expected reduction in cardiovascular disease. And it did not support the generally held belief that dog owners exercise more either!

Can A Dog Be An Anti-depressant?

Some people get dogs to fill an emotional need, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. If you are depressed, it might be a better choice than drugs for some. But they can also bring real problems if the dog is not quite what you signed up for.

True Love?

It’s not a guarantee, even if you got your puppy at that magical 7-week mark that he will bond with you and be exactly what you expected. And it is true as well with the older dogs. You just don’t know what you are getting and I think people are not always prepared for what they get.

I remember the first Greyhound rescue I had. He was an older guy and really beautiful. But he remained aloof despite my best efforts to bond with him. I tried everything!  It was disappointing and frankly I took it pretty personally. After all, I had rescued this dog from being euthanized. The least he could do was to be grateful! I laugh at myself now for having that expectation. But I think it is fairly common. 

Has your dog filled your expectations? Have they gotten you to exercise more, as you expected? Or have they facilitated friendships like some studies suggest? Has it been the experience you expected?

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9 Responses to “Does Your Dog Make You Happier?”

  1. Michelle S 16. May, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Maybe I’m an optimist, but I’m a much happier person because of my dogs. I mean, really, no matter how bad the day is, there are 3 furry beings who are extremely happy to see me. It’s hard to think anything is important with that kind of unconditional love. I think if we all greeted each other with more enthusiasm, the world would be a better place!

  2. Amanda Bills 16. May, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    All my dogs have made me very happy, the 3 in the past and the 3 I have now! Holidays and life revolves around them. beach holidays and mountain climbing. Any free time I get I want to spend it with them. if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t walk every day. At weekends we can cover 20 miles! My dogs are my children.

  3. Jan 16. May, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I can only speak for myself – But my little guy has exceeded my expectations…Because he was so severely mauled when he was a baby – I didn’t know if he would ever trust other dogs or humans again. When we rescued him and took him into his forever home – for days he just sat, tail tucked, no sounds…Lots of love, lots of boundaries and lots of training – - This little guy now… I swear smiles at me. I hope he feels even just a quarter of the love and happiness he has given me. He gives it back in small gifts…bringing a toy and putting in my chair…snuggling up to go to bed, putting a paw on my leg while we watch TV – I take each gift Scooter brings as a blessing and thank the Good Lord for bringing me such a special friend. Why my oh my, I think I have a speck of dust in my eye… :-)

  4. Elizabeth Deitz 17. May, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Knowing you and Scooter I think I can say he feels the same way about you as you do about him. He totally trusts and adores, which is quite an accomplishment considering his background. Thanks for the speck of dust in my eye!

  5. Elizabeth Deitz 17. May, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    You are very lucky! And they are as well. I love that you take them on vacation with you! Have you ever checked out GoPetFriendly? Great site that helps find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, etc throughout the US. I’ve found them very helpful, although having bulldogs we have not had any time on the beach. But it sure sounds like fun!! Just the thought of my guys on the beach makes me laugh. I wonder what they would think of waves? What do your dogs think of the waves as they come and go?

  6. Elizabeth Deitz 17. May, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Exactly! I love their exuberant greetings! However I was dismayed to find that my nine year old has suddenly decided it is time to chew on an antique cabinet! I mean really, what is she thinking?

  7. Elizabeth Deitz 17. May, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment! You made me tear up, both at the description of your relationship with your GSP and reference to my long-gone greyhound. As a trainer I have had the good fortune to have worked with a couple of GSP’s. They are great fun to train but I did not know about the “codependent” snuggler side of their personality. In class I rarely got to see one slow down enough for even a quick snuggle.
    I love your last line “I don’t love my dog because she loved me first or because she loves me now. I love my dog just because.”

  8. Cyndi 18. May, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Logan is my best friend and my little moon always in orbit around me. We have a bond that many people comment on. He bridges the gap with complete strangers and I am a more outgoing person because of that connection. He insists that we get out for regular walks. He has given me a wonderful and rewarding hobby (pet therapy). His joy at our homecoming whether it was 5 minutes or 5 hours washes away the stresses of the day.
    The only negatives I can think of are the emotional and financial stress when he is ill or needs a medical procedure. And I will admit to some grumbling after the 4th day in a row of cleaning carpets. :) But the hardest part is the empty quiet space when they are gone…

  9. Elizabeth Deitz 19. May, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    I know precisely what you mean about bridging the gap. Someone once said to me that dogs are the lubricant of social intercourse!I’d love to hear more about your Pet Therapy experiences. Maybe you could email me?

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