It’s A Dog’s Life


As I travel through my life, I have often noticed that dogs have some interesting effects on people. In the presence of a dog, even the gruffest, most hardened human beings can become soft and caring. I also notice that in the past few decades, more and more people are adopting dogs than ever before. In fact, I believe it safe to say that human beings harbour much more generalized affection for the entire canine species than they do for the human race. As a lifelong dog lover, my observations caused me to ask myself some very important questions about our puppy friends… 

  • Why do so many people own a dog or wish they could own a dog?
  • Why do so many people stroke the hair of almost every dog they meet?
  • Why do people hold their hands out for olfactory inspection by even the scariest mutts?
  • Why do people enjoy watching dogs playing with their owners in a park or in their homes?
  • Why is human behaviour more patient and kind with dogs than with people?
  • What is it that dogs do to affect the emotions of people so deeply?
  • Why do seventy percent of dog owners call themselves Mommy or Daddy to their dogs?
  • What is it about dogs that make people so darned happy?

Of course some of the answers are obvious…dogs are cute, funny and fun to play with.  Because they are not human, they are incapable of lying, cheating or bragging. In a wonderful way, they always display a childish naiveté and sense of wonder. I was curious though, if there might be some deeper reasons why people love dogs. My curiosity led me to the following conclusions:

The positive influence of dogs can be traced right back to human infancy. Exposure to well-behaved dogs can improve intellectual and cognitive development in babies and small children while stimulating their immune systems to help them avoid allergies and skin irritations. With increased exposure to pets, even at a very early age, babies will learn compassion and responsibility for animals that will spill over to their relationships with human beings.

As children age, their relationships with dogs can help them improve their self-esteem, increase their empathy toward others, and nurture better communication skills. Dogs tend to give insecure adolescents a sense of purpose and a feeling of value to the world that they would not otherwise have. That confidence can improve their natural ability to socialize with other people.

A dog can provide much-needed companionship to adults and provide them with a purpose for living while encouraging a more active life. “Walking the dog,” is, after all one of the most common forms of physical exercise in North America. Studies have indicated that a dog in the workplace can bring employee stress levels down and improve morale. It is also believed that dog ownership can directly or indirectly provide some of the following health benefits to adults:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Increase immunity to illness
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Reduced anxiety and depression levels
  • Diminished incidence of heart disease 

I am not an animal psychologist or a “dog whisperer” but I think it is safe to say that the main reason people enjoy being around dogs is because they provide unconditional love to the human beings closest to them. No matter how aloof a dog-owner is or how mean or uncaring he or she might be, a dog’s naturally generous nature will cause the pup to come back for more. Dogs always forgive their owners their greatest transgressions as they optimistically strive for a greater share of the affection all human beings are capable of. All they want from their owners is love and the opportunity to love them back.

Dogs that are taught bad behavior by a human being might be considered bad dogs but even those dogs love their owners. A dog that has been trained to be aggressive or even vicious by human beings will seldom, if ever turn on his or her owner or trainers. Most dogs are inherently good natured. Even a vicious dog will strive for the love and affection of the people closest to him or her. They are only vicious because they believe that is what their owners want. Their aggressiveness is a desperate display of loyalty.  Only a human being can create a bad dog.

If human beings could learn to be more like the dogs they cherish, the world would be a much better place, indeed. There might still be an occasional dogfight, but the abundance of unconditional love, generosity, and forgiveness would far outweigh any negatives.

Keep an eye on the dogs in your life. They might just help you learn how to get along with people just a little bit better!

All the Best

Wayne Kehl

 

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