“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” — Josh Billings
by Jordan DeWald
There is only one pet that is deserving of the title “Man’s Best Friend.” Sure, we feed, house, clean up after, and provide general care for dogs. That is the easy part though, and only reasonable when considering all that a dog gives his owner. Roger Caras comments on this relationship by saying, “Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” And what do humans get out of the deal?
Dogs Keep Us Healthy
From exercise to mental health to immunity, countless studies have revealed the actual health benefits from dog ownership. Just by the nature of the care required, dogs give their companion reason to get up and get moving. According to the American Heart Association, “dog owners are 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise than their non-dog owning counterparts.” A dog gives his owner reason to go outside or go for walks.
A person with a puppy may disagree, but it is proven that dogs reduce stress! They are nurturers that exude a calming effect, which makes them excellent therapeutic animals. Their companionship allows for familiarity and comfort and the peace of having something that loves without condition. They help people who have mental health difficulties by merely giving them a reason to get up every day, providing a stable routine, and giving the owner a sense of purpose.
Dogs Improve Our Moods
There is no one happier to see you when you get home, than your dog. When the rest of the world may have you down, you are the center of your dog’s world. When you are sad, they are there to lay near. When you are jumping up and down in excitement, they join in! They get you up and going, keeping you from being lazy for too long, though some dogs can outlazy anyone.
Try to walk through a park and see a dog, but don’t smile. That would be a difficult task for most people. Dogs, just by their simplistic nature, make people happy. Entire social media accounts are devoted to single dogs. Hashtags for a breed, or #dogsofinstagram, will cause you to lose time as you scan through pictures put there to make an audience smile.
Dogs Teach Us Responsibility
Not everything about having a dog is all ease and fun. Having a dog is a significant commitment, but even that helps a human become better caretakers and stick to a schedule. Dogs have basic needs that must be met every day, without fail. A dog depends on their human for everything- for food, water, to be let outside, shelter.
A family dog is often a child’s first significant responsibility, with an early chore often involving feeding the dog. My two kids have fed our dogs for years. I’ve seen them develop their own systems about how to make it most efficient, problem solve and pay attention to a schedule. I even caught on that my young daughter was giving the dogs “a surprise” with their bowl of food. She would put a treat at the bottom of the bowl so they got “dessert” after they finished their food.
It is only fitting that as I have written this article one of my dogs has laid by me the entire time, always wanting to be as close as possible to someone. She occasionally puts her nose on me, making sure I know she is there, and I pause to rub her head. Another sits at my feet and becomes alert at every outside sound as she is always ready to protect her family. Our third dog, who is old and has given us years of her devotion, is taking a well deserved nap in peace on the softest dog bed. As I look at my three dogs, my family’s companions, I find truth in more of Roger Caras’ words: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”