Dogs and humans have been living together for thousands of years. Scientists theorize that humans have been domesticating dogs for at least 14,000 and perhaps as early as 32,000 years ago. Throughout the ages, dogs have been our constant companions and we continue to reap the benefits of their friendship.
My gentle wolf dog Bartolomé makes me laugh with his cute antics. He’s big as a house, but in our neighborhood, he’s definitely no pero bravo (brave dog). Many of my neighbors have pooches that are veritably tiny–some are smaller than a chihuahua. However, what they lack in size, they more than make up for in bravery, snarling, teeth bared, barking and nipping at Bart’s heels. This sends him running back to mom, tail tucked firmly between his legs. My poor gentle boy. He’s such a sweet heart.
Dogs don’t just give us a good walk and a hearty laugh. They do many other things for us as well.
Five gifts that your dog gives you
- Your pooch can help you meet and greet. I’m out of the loop when it comes to the dating game, but I’ve been told many times that walking the dog is a great ice-breaker. If you’re in the dating scene, dogs are a great conversation starter, according to DogVacayBlog. Your dog can help you overcome shyness and make you more approachable. Taking your dog along on daily activities–going to the pet store, the dog park and to special events is healthy for you and pooch and it’s also a good way to meet other dog lovers.
- Dogs are excellent companions for people with rheumatoid arthritis (like me, for instance.) That’s because they make us get off of our duffs, DogVacay reports. We play with our fuzzy family members and in my case, it loosens my stiff, sore joints and helps take my mind off of my problems. Just seeing Bart happy at the chance of taking a walk is sometimes enough to make me feel better.
- Some dogs can actually tell when their owner’s blood sugar is falling. In an article published by the British Medical Journal, more than one-third of dogs living with diabetic owners go through behavioral changes when their owner’s blood sugar drops, LiveScience reports. The dogs often noticed the drop in blood sugar levels before their owners were even aware of it. In two cases, dogs actually alerted their owners by nudging them, thus reminding their owners to grab a bite to eat. Scientists don’t know what cued the dogs in, but it’s theorized that the dogs may detect minor muscle tremors or changes in their owner’s scent. It’s even possible that dogs can be taught this skill, according to LiveScience. Inmates at an Australian correctional facility have trained some dogs to do this.
- Then there are peanut detection dogs. These highly trained dogs can actually sniff out the tiniest fraction of a peanut in a cookie or in a candy bar, according to LiveScience. This is certainly a boon for people with allergies to peanuts. At places like the Florida Canine Academy, these dogs are trained to put their sniffers to work. For kids with peanut allergies, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship–one that could certainly ease a worried parent’s mind. LiveScience advises that it’s still important to for parents to be vigilant about peanut contamination in food and to carry an epinephrine pen to offset a possible allergic reaction.
- Dogs can elevate your mood and lower your blood pressure. Research shows that people with high blood pressure who adopted a dog (or cat) saw their blood pressure drop. By just playing with your dog for 15 minutes your body undergoes physical changes that reduce stress and elevate your mood, according to the Austin Humane Society. Playing with a pet increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, thus improving your mood and reducing levels of cortisol and norepinephrine–harmful chemicals that can affect your immune system.
Our friendship with dogs is a link to a bygone time and much has changed in the stampede of years. We are fortunate that our canine friends have remained constant and when I go out on my jaunts with Bart, I’m reminded of this. That’s when I become Megan the tool-user, alongside Bart, fearless wolf dog. Okay, maybe not.