Can Dogs Make You Happy?

>> Saturday

Researchers have looked into the influence a pet dog can have on your health, and it is significant. They can help you lower stress and increase oxytocin. And they can save your life. And, of course, they can raise your mood.

Learn more about what dogs can do for you: Reduce Stress: Get a Dog. At the bottom of the article are links to good resources.


Adam Khan 10:36 PM  

I just came across a photo essay about a program called Puppies Behind Bars.

Founded in 1997, Puppies Behind Bars is the brainchild of Gloria Gilbert Stoga, a New York woman who recognized that prison inmates would make excellent dog raisers. Prisoners have time, of course, but they also don't cost as much as professionals, who routinely charge $25,000 to train one animal.

At its outset, PBB trained dogs primarily to help the disabled and blind, but after 9/11, an increased demand for bomb-sniffing dogs led it to add that specialty to its curriculum (though not at Fishkill). These days, many of the dogs end up going to disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tyrone has served five of 8½ years for threatening someone at gunpoint. "I've learned not to let these walls make me a prisoner of my own emotions," he says. "The program has taught me to be patient, honest with myself, and how to work without ego. My last dog, Yankee, went to a war veteran somewhere in Colorado. Just knowing that I helped to change someone's life makes me feel as if I have a purpose and a destiny. These dogs have a way of touching a person's spirit."

Sidney was sentenced to 15 years for robbery. "I am in prison for thinking crime was the only alternative for success and keeping a tight grip on a destructive, nonproductive lifestyle," he says. "I've learned that I'm not as impatient as I thought I was. I've gained an option to take this skill, further my education and pursue what has given me a sense of purpose."

See the photo essay here>>

Adam Khan 2:33 AM  

Brian Hare, an assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology, is the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, which tests dogs brought in voluntarily by their owners in order to understand more about the cognitive abilities of dogs. He says:

"There’s a huge supply problem — there are not many dogs available, and it’s very labor-intensive to train these dogs to help people."

Adam Khan 2:36 AM  

In an article in Time Magazine, it says:

It's no coincidence that the two species that pass Hare's pointing test also share a profound cross-species bond. Many animals have some level of social intelligence, allowing them to coexist and cooperate with other members of their species. Wolves, for example--the probable ancestors of dogs--live in packs that hunt together and have a complex hierarchy. But dogs have evolved an extraordinarily rich social intelligence as they've adapted to life with us. All the things we love about our dogs--the joy they seem to take in our presence, the many ways they integrate themselves into our lives--spring from those social skills. Hare and others are trying to figure out how the intimate coexistence of humans and dogs has shaped the animal's remarkable abilities.

Hare suspects that the evolutionary pressures that turned suspicious wolves into outgoing dogs were similar to the ones that turned combative apes into cooperative humans. "Humans are unique. But how did that uniqueness evolve?" asks Hare. "That's where dogs are important."

Adam Khan 2:42 AM  

"As researchers test high-tech PTSD treatments (such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers and virtual-reality exposure therapy), a low-tech alternative is emerging in the form of man's best friend. Although the government has been providing service dogs to troops who have lost their sight or suffered other physical injuries, it is only beginning to look into whether these animals can improve the lives of those who are psychically injured. The need for good treatment options is enormous: some 40,000 troops have been physically wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, but 10 times as many exhibit symptoms of PTSD."

- Bringing Dogs to Heal

Fred Miller 6:01 AM  

A couple of weeks ago. Neil deGrasse Tyson on "Nova" was demonstrating the intelligence of dogs. He showed that even though chimps are smarter and have a more advanced social structure, dogs are more focused on humans. And chimps don't trust us. Dogs do.

Makes me feel better when I'm having trouble focusing. It's probably the result of brain overload. And we inherited it from our ancestors.


Subscribe to the Moodraiser newsletter, delivered free to your inbox. Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Moodraiser Archive

Feel good more often and become more effective with your actions. Check it out on Amazon: Self-Help Stuff That Works.

  © Free Blogger Templates Wild Birds by 2008

Back to TOP