Owning a dog is one of the great human experiences in life, along with music and cooking.
Everybody loves dogs, it’s hard not to; they’re cute, dependant, and you can pour gobs upon gobs of love into them unconditionally.
That’s why it’s understandable that nearly 3 in 4 Americans like dogs, and why many view their pets as members of their family.
They love them.
And the relationship between humans and dogs is one older than civilization. For more than 30,000 years, humans have tamed and befriended dogs for both utility—protection and hunting prowess—as well as companionship (more on that later).
In every sense of the word, dogs truly are man’s best friend. And without their loyalty and unconditional devotion, it’s hard to imagine a world without them.
And in honor of National Dog Day, we wouldn’t dare.
Instead, we’re going celebrate dogs for the natural wonders they are, and dive deep into the life-changing magic that owning a dog provides…
They Provide Companionship
This one may seem obvious but it’s a bit deeper than you think. Did you know that 62% of Americans own a pet? And the majority of those pets are dogs.
Dogs—big or small—continue to hold real weight in the lives of their owners. For kids at home, a German Shepherd or Labrador is more than the family dog. And it does more than appeasing a kid’s desire to caretake after an animal—another seemingly evolutionary remnant.
The family dog is also responsible for protection and good company. Whether it’s mom or the kids alone at the house, or you’re just trying to keep your kids occupied in the other room, dogs can be an integral part of the family dynamic.
Families aside, dogs are also great for those that are single and living alone. For many young women in the city, having a pit bull in the apartment can feel safer than owning a gun.
And considering the social isolation common to the elderly, having a small dog to look after and care for can be a life-saving responsibility (more on that later).
As a whole, dogs are excellent companions, not just for their presence but also for their utility. Whether it’s to protect us from harm or give us a reason to go outside, dogs are the gift that keeps giving—and in more ways than one.
They Can Improve Your Overall Health
Did we mention that owning a dog can provide a number of health benefits, as well?
In fact, when examining the effects of dog ownership on humans, researchers found a few startling things in regard to their effect on physical health outcomes.
In the 12-year long study, they found that participants experienced…
- Increased opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize.
- Decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
- Lower levels of loneliness and depression.
Not bad, right?
Especially when you consider that owning a dog isn’t all that expensive. According to some sources, owning a dog can cost anywhere from $500-$1600 a year.
That’s far less than the annual cost of even the most budget-conscious therapist.
But the benefits of owning a dog don’t stop there. When the physiological reactions that cause stress, anxiety, and depression are reduced, it’s physically less taxing on the body. This means that a calmer and more mentally healthy life can literally help you live longer.
And in a paper published by Scientific Reports, it was found that owning a dog positively correlated with an increase in life expectancy…in a study involving 3.4 million people. They’re also understood to reduce the formation of potential allergies in young people that are exposed to them early.
Beyond their companionship, owning a dog can have a serious impact on your overall health and life expectancy.
They Give You a Sense of Purpose
Whether it’s your job, your hobbies, your child, or your family, we all need a sense of purpose. Something that compels us and forces us to take responsibility; to carry some load—ours or others.
For many Americans—particularly young ones–finding this sense of purpose can be elusive. We see it in quarter-life crises, chronic social media use, and polarizing politics.
But in truth, people need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And sometimes, self-care isn’t enough.
Thankfully, that’s where dogs come in.
Owning a dog can provide a clear sense of purpose for those that need a sense of responsibility in their lives. When you choose to purchase or adopt a dog, it’s very much like having or adopting a child.
The dog is a living breathing thing that needs safety and depends on you for food. Taking care of a living thing and ensuring that its life is happy and fulfilling is a critical aspect of dog ownership.
For example, there are many people that feed and give their dogs water. Maybe they give them toys and treats now and then, too. But if they live in an apartment and only take their dogs out for walks when its time to go to the bathroom then the dog is missing out on a crucial part of its life: interacting with other dogs.
Along with food, water, and shelter, dogs need entertainment. It’s these kinds of considerations of a dog’s wellbeing that are the hallmarks of a good owner.
That level of awareness and care is exactly the kind of responsibility that many dog owners find endearing when it comes to owning a dog. When you get a dog, you can no longer think for just yourself anymore. Trips away have to be calibrated to accommodate your dog and make sure their taken care of.
And for those that are single or elderly, that feeling of caretaking can be just what you need to power you through your day—you’ve got someone that depends on you.
The relationship between humans and dogs is one as old as civilization itself.
And more than furry little companions we choose to feed, shelter, and give love—dogs are the closest thing we have to Nature’s therapists.
Known to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression in humans, dogs have saved more lives—physically and mentally—than we could ever know.
The Last Word on Owning a Dog…
Dogs are great.
They’re little furry balls of love that will greet you energetically whether you’re having the best day of your life or the worst.
All they need from you is a place to sleep, a scratch under the chin, and a little bacon.
If you’ve got any *sniff.*