In this political season, I’m reminded of the quote, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Truth is, dogs make great friends. Humans and dogs (for this article, I’m only looking at research into the human-canine relationship) share a long and close bond. There is research showing dog ownership reduces stress and cholesterol levels, improves survival for cardiac patients and boosts emotional health. Dog owners have fewer minor medical problems and improved physical health, because your pup needs to be walked. There is also research showing dogs, at times, can alert owners to episodes of hypoglycemia, before symptoms show. The same for warning of the onset of seizures, to alert owners to get to a safe place. Dogs are nonjudgmental, although I’m sure one of my dogs does comment if I’m slow to get him out for his morning walk! And therapy dogs can help in nursing home settings, reducing the need for medication.
Remember: Dogs are pack animals and thrive on social interaction. So, as we work on our person-to-person relationships, don’t ignore the value of person-to- pet relationships with pups, to kitties, even horses and birds, or with whatever creature you choose to share your home and life.
Benita Zahn, DPS-Bioethics
715 North Pearl Street, Albany, NY 12204
o: 518-207-4820; twitter: @BenitaZahn
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