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The Benefits of Having a Dog

 

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” -Roger Caras

       Come to my house any day and you will either stumble into two peaceful, resting dogs, or you will be pummeled by two crazy, outrageously energetic puppies; there is no in between. If you also have dogs, or a dog, you will understand exactly what I am talking about. The constantly chewed towels, destroyed pillows, and water EVERYWHERE. I love them so much, but I really needed to know what I was getting out of the situation. So, I did the best thing a person can do: I Googled it.

       My intense Googling led me to some interesting facts. Dogs help reduce feelings of loneliness and stress. They also increase enthusiasm, encourage socialization, give you a sense of closeness, and serve as a topic of conversation.

       But, you see, some plain old facts aren’t enough for me. I needed to know. Do my dogs actually help me? So again, I did the best thing a person can do: I took notes on it.

       First, I gathered my materials. I bought a brand new notepad and pen at T.J. Maxx. I did  extensive research, and after reading many articles on the benefits of dogs I was ready. I categorized my brand new notebook into my research categories. Then, I began my observations.

Clara says hello!

       Loneliness:

       By loneliness, I’m talking about how alone you feel at all times. Loneliness is not always a bad thing, sometimes the best company to be around is yourself. Since dogs love people so much, they supposedly make people feel loved with a companion at their side all the time. They aren’t called ‘man’s best friend’ for nothing; though I can’t speak for men, I can assure you that dogs are in fact my best friends. Despite the claim that dogs reduce loneliness, I doubted the effectiveness with my dogs. You see, I am not a very lonely person. I love the presence of other people, but I also enjoy tranquil solitude. One of my favorite hobbies is making blanket forts and watching Netflix.  

       On the very first day of note taking, I was left home alone with Polly. She remained next to me for so long it became impossible for me to be lonely. My first weekday of taking notes, a Monday, both my brother and mother were out and about, so I was again alone, though it did not feel that way. Polly, our one year old Border Collie Australian Shepherd mix, had decided to perch herself next to me, enthusiastically drooling on my leg. Clara, our two year old Pitbull, Lab, Boxer mix, on the other hand, makes it very clear that she would rather be somewhere else; probably out with her friends. All throughout the week, Clara sat in the other room, while Polly stayed near me at. all. times.

       

Polly also says hi!

Overall, I think that I am less lonely because I have dogs. They really make it impossible to feel alone. Whether they are chilling on the other side of the house or they are climbing on your shoulders, you know they are there. To be honest, I have to agree with the whole loneliness argument.

       Social situations created by my dogs:

       Most people love dogs, when they see dogs, they want to pet them, or at least compliment them in the voice. If you have a dog, or have seen someone talk to their dog, you know the voice. I tend to be on the complimenting side, because who doesn’t love dogs? When people do compliment my dogs, I usually respond with an uncomfortable laugh and walk away.

       On the weekends my family typically brings our dogs to the Naugatuck dog park, and we end up talking to other dog owners. This previous weekend, my two dogs found the only mud puddle in the whole place and went to town on it. Other dog owners told us they were sorry and pointed out the fact that my dogs were going to need a bath.

       My younger neighbors also see me taking the dogs for a walk as a great opportunity to talk to me. These are both regular occurrences where I talk to people I usually wouldn’t speak to. So, dogs most certainly create social situations.

       Stress:

       Apparently dogs reduce stress. There has been a whole lot of research following this statement; including studies following heart rate and blood pressure. Since dogs are so cute and make people laugh, they reduce stressful emotions. Scientific studies break it down as this: when people pet, play, or see dogs, their production of the hormone oxytocin (which helps to reduce stress) increases, and their production of the stress hormone cortisol decreases (Center of Disease Control and Prevention).

       I am not usually stressed, but I can become stressed easily. On a normal school day morning, I tend to freak about being late, even though everything is ready to go. I feel like Clara judges me the whole time. She literally gives me a side-eye while Polly likes to dart right past me. So, while I am panicking in the morning, they do not help. But, after school when I am more of a rational person, they are super helpful. Polly lets me pet her when I am stressed about homework, and they both make me laugh a lot, which makes me a much more carefree person. Even just looking at my lock screen, which is a funny picture of Polly, helps me de-stress.

       Conversation:

       Dog owners love their dogs. They talk about them. A LOT. Dogs do so many silly and cute things that people who want to spread joy to the world tell their friends about them. I do not want to talk about how much I talk about my dogs. It is one of my few flaws; I am always talking about my dogs. Ask anyone I converse with on a regular basis, and you

“Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.” -W.R. Purche

will see that I talk about my dogs, way too much. Funny things they do, adorable faces they make, how destructive they are, etc. I could go on and on. I tried to go a full day without talking about them, and I realized a terrible fact: I basically only talk about my dogs. But I am not the only one. I observed my peers who have pets, and, let me say, there was a whole lot of animal talk. People everywhere talk about their pets all the time. It just shows how much they love their animals.

       Overview:

       Through my extensive scientific observations, I have concluded that dogs are fabulous. Whenever you feel lonely, they are there. Even if you aren’t lonely, they are still there. They support you 100% of the time. They also force you to socialize more, whether you want to or not. While this may seem terrible, I guess it helps out sometimes. They also help you chill out. When you are freaking out, they will freak out with you. Because of science, the double freak out cancels itself out, causing you to calm down and your dog to remain enthusiastic. They also keep you from being boring. Whenever a conversation gets a little dry, you can just talk about your dog. So, if you don’t have a dog: get one. If you have a dog: appreciate it more. Thank you, everyone

Abby Messina, Hawk Headlines

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