No pun intended, but I double dog dare you to pick up a puppy and not feel good. Heck, you don’t even have to physically touch these furry little creatures to reap the benefits of their love. I mean, watch this video and try not to smile. It’s impossible.
Growing up on the farm, we always had a dog. They just came with the territory. In our family, there were ten humans, and the dog always seemed to favor one (or two) of us over the others. That came with the territory too. My most beloved pet was a miniature collie named Herky. Oh how he loved my sister Pam and me. And we loved him right back—that much and more. On those rainy nights when we were told Herky needed to stay outside, we’d purposely stay awake until everyone was asleep. Then we’d grab a towel, sneak him inside, dry him off, and bring him to our bedroom. Funny, he’d always be right outside our door waiting for us too. His faith in us never wavered. I still tear up when I think about that sweet pooch.
Dog owners are rewarded not only with incredibly fond memories but also improved physical well-being. A puppy can even save your life. Here’s how:
- Dogs keep your heart healthy. Whether they’re begging you to take them for a walk or just snuggle on the couch, dogs do your heart good by helping you get daily exercise and lowering your stress levels.
- Dogs brighten your bad days. Anyone can have a bout of the blues, but for some it can be quite serious. The responsibility and routine of owning a dog can help ease the pain that goes with depression, not to mention the positive impact of having another creature super excited to see you every time you walk through the door. That, and the licks. The licks are pretty awesome too.
- Dog owners get sick less. Believe it or not, your dog is doing you a huge favor by bringing all sorts of bacteria into your home. Exposure to this biodiversity helps build up your immune system and ward off disease. So the next time everyone but you is fighting off the latest bug, thank your pup!
- Dog owners have fewer allergies. Sure, dogs can be a nightmare for those who are allergic to them. But research shows that you might be doing your kids a favor in the allergy department by having a dog in the house. The specifics are a mystery, but the power of the puppy shines through when it comes to reducing allergies in kids.
The Herky of my youth is long gone, and I had somehow forgotten the influence that a dog can have on your life—until we adopted our rescue dog Cleo a little over a year ago. I am decidedly her human, and the trust she puts in me is mighty and unmistakable. I don’t know how we did without her for so long. She has made our already happy home complete.
Of course, even if you’re more of a cat person, some of these benefits still apply. Feeling the love of another living being will brighten and lighten anyone’s day. In this self-healther’s opinion, feeling loved is one of the top prescriptions for a life of optimal health.
Are you interested in bringing puppy power into other people’s lives? Check out these programs and get involved.
Caregiver Canines: This group has made it their mission to bring dogs into the lives of homebound senior citizens. They’re looking to get local chapters started, so now is a great time to check them out.
CCi Prison Trained Dogs Program: This program offers female inmates the opportunity to turn troubled dogs into adoptable companions for life. It gives the inmates skills they can use upon release and dogs a chance to be placed in a loving home.
Local pet shelters: Need a little puppy power yourself? Head to your local pet shelter and volunteer your time to help care for them. Or just spend an afternoon under a pile of puppies. It does your body and mind good.
Photo of Cleo by Paula Widish