You’ve probably seen that saying all over the place: Etsy, Pinterest, coffee mugs, everywhere. I think it’s everywhere because, well, who doesn’t love references to The Beatles? And, also, because it’s a universal truth.
Our dogs make us happy and keep us healthy. It’s a fact; they keep us physically well.
- The American Heart Association found that pet owners lowered their risk of heart disease. And people who have heart disease and who own a pet are more likely to survive a heart attack.
- According to a Washington Post article, “One recent review of 69 studies found evidence that human-animal interactions could lift mood and reduce stress and anxiety, perhaps by activating the hormone oxytocin.”
- The same article also reported survey results from the University of Utah: “Pet owners were less obese, had better self-reported health, less asthma and fewer cardiovascular problems than people without pets.”
- Even the CDC has an entire portal on their website dedicated to Healthy Pets Healthy People.
Having a dog keeps us healthy, but having our little furballs curled up at our feet is so much more than that. It’s about heart health – not the cardiovascular kind that AHA is talking about – but our need for emotional well being. Maybe it sounds sappy, but it’s rooted in science.
I’ve been thinking about this today because dang. We are mired in tragedy. And not just the usual tragedy of war that we’ve all become numb to, sadly. Last night, as we shifted from the devastation in Nepal to the devastation in Baltimore, Lucas climbed onto the couch. He sat next to me and whined. I pulled him onto my lap. Moments later, Newt joined us. John snapped this pic because the Lucas + Newt snuggle is akin to seeing a Pegasus cropping grass in our front yard.
No, it doesn’t eliminate the heartache. Watching the coverage brought us both to tears many times over, and having these guys on my lap won’t get rid of that. But it sure does help. It sure does help to weave your fingers into the extra soft fur behind the ears. It sure does help to have someone who is genuinely happy to see you and far too good-spirited to ever conceal the joy they feel upon your return home. It sure does help to have all that love…
… and a dog.
(And, okay, a cat.)