Dog Therapy

Post by Sharon

We love our pups! As a single woman for 10 years without a dog in my home, it's been hard. When times are rough, I can talk to myself or I can talk to God, or perhaps call a friend, but when I babysit my son's dog when he's on vacation, I realize how significant dogs are to our own well being.

When a friend loses a dog, I usually think right away about how lucky they had each other. We often think of how much we care for our dog and love him/her, but we don't realize what they give us back. An ideal match is a true blessing. 

Dogs offer someone to talk to who doesn't judge or give advice.

They distract us from sadness and hurt by bringing a ball in their mouth for us to throw and a focus other than our inner world.

Demonstrating the balance between spastic exercise and long bouts of sleep, dogs remind us of the need to get adequate sleep to be able to expend lots of energy.

With their soft fur and their loving needs, they give us a focus to pet and groom them and that very act of care and love gives us a sense of purpose and physical contact to feel less isolated.

It is proven that petting dogs can help our immune system, lower blood pressure, and soothe us when we're upset. When my son was in the hospital as a teen, they brought a golden retriever in to climb in the bed and cuddle. After a bout of meningitis, he perked up fast with a soft buddy to pet. 

Dogs expose us to all kinds of flora that is actually beneficial for our immunities and even our gut flora. 

These whirlwinds of energy give us an excuse to walk and get outdoors, to throw balls, to run, and to play. It's like having that best friend who is a jock and keeps wanting to go run the track at the high school. 

The act of putting another's welfare before your own is one of the healthiest perspectives. That shift in focus comes back to you. Do you ever wonder why petting a dog (an act that soothes the pet) also soothes you? 

Having a dog means parenting. This involves teaching, feeding, health care, grooming, exercising, and learning to read cues. This dynamic helps the dog, but it also helps you to feel stronger and wiser.

If you have more than one dog, you have a family. And, you also get different kinds of interactions with different kinds of pups. Some are lap cuddlers, others want the ball thrown nonstop, and others are more guard dogs, the alpha, keeping a watch on things and don't need much muss and fuss. But, watching the interactions between them can be quite satisfying and if you do have to leave your home for a while, you know they have each other.

Kids and grandkids also share the love and the family size widens. It is inherent in children to want a pet to love, another to take care of. It is a good rehearsel for learning the world doesn't revolve around them and also that, by caring for another, you learn compassion and the golden rule in practice.

It also goes without saying that dogs can be a great source of laughter. They do the most silly things. I had a dog once that said "hell-ooooo" every time you greeted her. They knock over things, fall off of sofas, nap in weird places, and react to events in unexpected ways. 

The laughter dogs evoke is one of the two greatest stress relievers and the other stress reliever is cuddling which they happily provide.