I’ve had a number of experiences with dogs, mostly in Tucson. I’ve never had success keeping a cat at the ranch where I spent most of my adult years – coyotes tended to make feline life perilous. Despite that, companions of all kinds offer us a range of benefits.
They help us recover faster from serious health conditions, and tend to provide fulfillment no matter what the day brings. Being near pets can give you some other interesting potential benefits as well, such as:
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Fewer feelings of loneliness:
A survey by the American Veterinary Association found that nearly 50% of respondents consider their pets to be companions, while only two% think of them as property. And a Purdue University researcher found that 97% of respondents talk to their pets.
More compatibility among humans:
Having dogs in the office seems to improve group bonding among workers. Researchers discovered that individuals who had a dog in the room while they worked were more likely to feel more bonded with their teammates than those who did not have any dogs around.
While this may seem counterintuitive, early exposure has just found that pets can actually help lessen or prevent allergies. The University of Wisconsin – Madison researchers examined the effects of an infant and a dog sharing a household, and determined the babies had reduced allergic sensitization, fewer allergy-related skin rashes, and decreased other reactions caused by allergic reactions.
Lower blood pressure:
A study at the University of Buffalo, New York, tested 48 stockbrokers and found 24 of them had dogs or cats as a part of their treatment. The brokers with pets had more stable cardiovascular health measures during stressful times than those without pets. One researcher from the study said the pet-free broker group went out and purchased pets in response to the findings.
Meeting other people:
One reason people don’t invest in enhancing their ability to meet others is because it’s not typically viewed as a medical benefit. However, research has shown that adding social interactions to your day can have significant benefits physically and psychologically.
The study conducted by writer Allen Sarkin looked at connecting with people on the street and dissected one woman’s interaction with random dogs. The winning breeds were a Great Dane and a “quivering, rat-faced” toy poodle.
The losing breeds were comely purebreds: a golden retriever, a long-haired dachshund and a standard poodle, which Sarkin found did not offer “good looks but little charm.” So perhaps further studies are required to verify this phenomenon in the opposite direction.
Before you decide if a pet is right for you, I recommend that you consider the many benefits of having one. Even though they require time and work, they can enhance your health and happiness by providing companionship. Your past experiences with pets may even lead you to enjoy this type of relationship — that’s how it worked out for me 30 years ago.