Want to Get Healthier? Get a Dog.

As some of you know, my husband and I recently rescued two mini dachshunds – Abby and Oscar. Abby is a long-haired Doxie with a red and black coat. She’s 5 or 6, and sadly came to us underweight and close to being hairless. Oscar formerly Dallas (but as a Giants fan that was not happening in this house) is a 2-year-old wire-hair with lots of energy and two different colored-eyes that caught my attention when I first saw him online. Both are thriving in their new forever home.

While these two come with lots of challenges and dejectedly come from situations I am unsure of, they are now receiving the love they deserve. The rescue process got me thinking. We wanted to rescue since there are so many dogs and animals that need homes. Our first dog was not a rescue, and when he passed, we promised him we would rescue. But what does that mean? It means there is a little unknown in what you are getting, but you can for sure count on love begets love.

We made good on our promise a little over a month ago, there has been some challenges – mostly with Oscar to be fair to Abby, but there have been more rewards. Truth is, and this is what I was thinking more about is I am so focused on giving them a good home and making sure they are happy, but they are doing the same with me. We don’t just rescue them, they rescue us. For example, when I heard about my brother (read my last blog), I began to cry and both dogs ran over to me to give me licks and cuddles. It warmed my sad heart.

The love you receive from an animal – I’d argue especially from a dog – is unconditional. Have you ever come home to find your spouse or partner waiting at the door and then they jump up and kiss you and run around in a circle in excitement? I didn’t think so. Neither do I. Not that I have a troubled relationship, it is just that the love of an animal is whole, limitless and has no boundaries. They love with their whole heart and are not afraid to show it off.

This love has health benefits too:

Eliminates Stress – Dogs help humans reduce stress. Studies show that interactions with animals can decrease stress in humans. Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Eradicates Disease – Dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than people who don’t have dogs. Pets can also be good for you if you already have heart problems. Heart attack survivors and people with serious abnormal heart rhythms who own dogs live longer than people with the same heart problems who don’t have pets, studies show. Dogs can also help build your immune system because they expose you to more disease and your body builds more antibodies. Not to mention, dogs can detect a reduction in blood sugar.

Reduces Depression – according to www.webmd.com , people with pets are generally happier, more trusting, and less lonely than those who don’t have pets. They also visit the doctor less often for minor problems.

Improves Overall Health –  Dogs in general will get you exercising more. In fact, I hit the gym every day, but since Abby and Oscar came on the scene, I am walking more with them too. In fact, my husband and I really enjoy late night rides with them to explore new parks.

Teaches You Discipline – an organized life is a good life. When your life is in chaos so can be your health. When you own a dog, you tend to be more organized and on a schedule because the dog likes to be on a schedule. With discipline, comes purpose. You have a purpose to be better with your commitments and keeping a schedule. It’s good for your health too.

Having a pet of any kind is a lot of work. It takes a lot of patience, work and dedication. They don’t come trained, they need to be fed, walked and loved. You won’t be able to go out on a whim and you’ll always have them to consider whatever move you make. I think it is well worth it, but that does not mean it is for everyone. If you do consider adding a fur-baby to your home, please consider adoption and feel good about doing another thing to improve your health.