Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and show your gratitude for the many blessings in your life. Here are 10 things every dog owner can be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
1. The Affection Of A Good Dog
Any positive affectionate behavior like snuggling or petting your dog raises endorphin and dopamine levels and that is good for your health. New research has surfaced affirming that looking into your dog’s eyes is also a proven emotional boost. A 2009 study by Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan found that: “one’s level of oxytocin (the neurohormone that elicits feelings of happiness) raised intensely after interacting with their dogs. And the only interaction they needed was to stare into their dog’s eyes. Those who looked longer into their dog’s eyes had the bigger dose of oxytocin”. Another fun fact: “A dog’s willingness to meet eyes with humans is one of the things that separates them from wolves.” We can all be thankful for the love and affection our dogs are happy to give and receive.
2. If You Drop It, They Will Eat It
Dogs are terrific vacuum cleaners. If you don’t mind your pooch, politely hanging out under and around the table, you need never worry about crumbs and tidbits falling from your plates. It almost makes up for the messes that they can make. Thanks Fido!
Watch out, though, some folks might get a little too generous!
3. Your Dog Will Keep You Moving
Do you ever feel like you should be outside more? Do you wish you had some kind of incentive to get out and exercise? No. You don’t. Because you have dogs! With the holidays approaching, dog owners will be thankful for our furry, personal trainers when we battle those extra pounds.
Just try to spend one morning binge-watching Game of Thrones, and that sad little face will stare you down until you go fetch “The Fun Shoes”.
4. You Never Have To Worry About Looking Crazy
Dogs are great listeners, so we never have to ask if we’re going crazy because we’re never just talking to ourselves. According to WebMD, “No one loves you more unconditionally than your pet. And a pet will listen to you talk for as long as you want to talk” which is, apparently, good for your mental health. Talking to your dog; “takes you out of yourself and helps you feel better about the way you spend your time.”
More importantly, your dog will never tell anyone that your boss is a moronic pencil-neck, or that Tracy, in accounts receivable, has a mushroom head and bad breath. Isn’t that a blessing?
5. Your Dog Makes You More Attractive?
It isn’t just that you’re have toned thighs from all of those walks, having a dog is scientifically proven to make you more attractive to potential mates. According to a study conducted by Dog’s Trust, the United Kingdom’s largest dog welfare charity, when they surveyed 700 people, 60 percent said that owning a dog can make people more attractive, while 85 percent think people are more approachable when they are with a dog. Maybe you have Misty the Miracle Mutt to thank for that hunk, who just asked you out!
6. Dogs Are Great Teachers
No matter how smart you are, your dog is going to teach you something. They help us to learn compassion, patience, humor and responsibility. Each dog has a very different personality that requires an owner to figure out what works best for them.
We find ourselves learning and changing our habits or controlling our impulses or emotions because our best buddy needs us to be a good boss. The family dog teaches children that taking care of someone may sometimes be difficult or tiring, but it’s always rewarding.
6. Dogs Keep You Connected To The World Around You
Of course it’s fun to do Doggie Selfies and Dog Skyping, but you still can’t have a relationship with a dog that is based solely on your phone or your computer. Dogs live in the here and now and don’t have much interest in a “virtual you”. We have to pet them. We have to spend real time with them. We have to go out into the world where people will stop us and ask; “What kind of dog is that?!” or “Can I pet your dog?”. In an article about why dogs make our lives so much better, extraordinarydogs.org says: “In a world of email and texting and videoconferencing, a relationship with a dog is unmediated by technology. Couldn’t we all use a cuddly canine to tear us away from our smartphones?”
According to extraordinarydogs.org, “a recent study at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that the more attached a person was to an animal as a teenager and young adult, the more empathetic and confident he or she was.”
That’s a strong argument for having a family dog.
8. Dogs Feel Your Pain
Into every life a little rain must fall, and when it does, there’s nobody more understanding than your dog. Dogs sense mood changes. When tragedy, sadness or even an unexplained bad mood hits you, you can bet that your pet is going to feel it with you. So much so that dogs are utilized more and more in response to human pain. A recent CNN article details how veterans are aided by Service and Therapy Dogs: “Dogs have been proven to help the recovery process of soldiers going through post-traumatic stress disorder. One army veteran, Robert Soliz, a former army specialist who served in Baghdad, found that engaging with dogs in a program called “Paws for Purple Hearts” helped him get his life back to the way it was before he left for war. When he returned, Soliz was so traumatized that he couldn’t show any affection and struggled to even hug his kids. After spending six weeks with a Golden Retriever, Soliz began to feel more comfortable with his family.” This is undeniable proof that a dog can help you through your hard times, without even requiring a thank you.
9. Dogs Protect Us
Ok, not every dog owner has a Rottweiler or a Doberman who is trained to take down an assailant, but there’s a little bit of police dog lurking inside all of our buddies. Even a teacup Chihuahua will alert you when you have a visitor, expected or otherwise. Whether it’s a family dog saving a child from danger or alerting authorities to a lost owner, or a scruffy mutt who finds an abandoned newborn and carries her to safety. Working dogs spend their lives sniffing out drugs and bombs and now even cancer. Dogs will put themselves in harms way for their humans. Some say that dogs are the only beings that love us more than they love themselves.
10. Dogs Are Good For Your Heart
It isn’t just the added physical activity, though that may play a large role, your dog can help you live a longer, happier and healthier life, starting with your heart. Improved happiness, activity, community involvement, attachment, company and affection reduce stress. “Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be responsible for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.” The statement on pet ownership was published online in the journal Circulation.
And in a related article: “People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active,” suggests Dr. Thomas Lee, Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. “The emotional benefits of having an affectionate creature are also one of the theories for why dog-lovers live longer.”
We can study the “hows” and the “whys”, but the facts are clear. The National Heart Association has affirmed that; “owning a pet, and a dog in particular, likely lowers your risk of heart disease.”
What about the heart we give to our dogs? That may be where they do the most for us.
Dogs love unconditionally. They remain loyal to us throughout their lives. They make us laugh, protect us, teach us and give us affection. People may let us down when we give our hearts to them, but a dog never will. As one long-time dog owner and rescuer said to me, when I asked her how she could deal with adopting her dear friends out to new homes, or nursing an old or sick dog through their last days, “I’m thankful for every dog I’ve ever loved. It’s worth it because the only time a dog will ever break your heart, is when they die.”