There are a lot of good things coming from owning a dog when you’re chronically ill like me. In my case, I’ve grown up with two family dogs. In fact, there are a lot of dogs in my family, most are saved out of a shelter, and most are Spanish. My dog is also a rescue, though not Spanish. I remember when I was sad of feeling sick as a teenager, my old black dog (who died this year, sadly) came to sit next to be and sniff my face, or just look at me sympathetically. When I moved out of my parents’ house at 22 and went to live together with Boyfriend, obviously we didn’t have pets (because most apartments don’t allow pets, and we were full-time students).
But I sure missed the companionship and love of a dog in the house! Now, we live in an apartment were pets are allowed, so we moved my cat in (who was still living at my parents’ house) and eventually adopted Kai, our rescue dog. One of the reasons I wanted a dog is because I’m chronically ill. Now, you can say: if you’re ill and can barely take care of yourself and your surroundings, how will you take care of a dog? It’s an extra responsibility. Which is true. But I didn’t leave the house for days in a row. I didn’t know if it was cold outside. Going on a walk on my own just wasn’t for me, I would just focus on my symptoms and feel faint. With Kai, I have to go outside several times a day. Now I know what the weather is like, if it’s cold, feel the rain on my skin and the sun in my face. I work on strengthening my body, my muscles, when I go outside and walk a bit longer everyday. There are butterflies of happiness in my stomach when I see Kai run and dance when walking outside (he really loves going out). Plus, there is the companionship I was craving. Being chronically ill can be very lonely. Especially when your partner is still a full-time student, or has a full-time job and a lot of responsibilities. I was alone most days. Even though I feel just fine being by myself (I prefer my own companionship over lots of social interactions), being alone that much wouldn’t make anybody happy. And as my friend Brian says: with an unhappy heart, you can’t heal. Today I thought about all the good Kai brings me and decided to go search the internet to find out what more advantages there are with owning a dog (yes, I’m quite the journalist lately).
1. Apparently, you get sick less often. Wow, imagine that I would be sick even more often because of not owning a dog. I think this advantage is yet to come though, because we only have Kai for about two months in which I had the flu for a full three weeks and have yet to fully recover from that (and from the holidays as well). Dogs bring germs in the house which forces your body to fight off all kinds of bacteria, which makes your body stronger in the end.
2. It turns out that children who grew up with animals in the house have less allergies than children who never had pets. This starts when you’re a fetus in your mothers belly. When your mother was around pets during the pregnancy, you have less chance of developing allergies (though watch out with kitty litter, never clean the litterbox while pregnant!).
3. Owning a dog will make you happier. Even clinically depressed people benefit from owning a dog. It’s even said to be better than medicine (debatable, and there are many, many different theories and opinions about whether or not to use medicine, and I’m not going into that now, or ever).
Having a dog around forces you to have a routine, to get out of bed, to get out of the house every few hours, soak up some vitamin D while you’re outside, and more of those little things that can make a lot of difference. And do we even need to talk about the love your dog gives you? You are his very best friend and he will show you that every day. It’s harder to stay in a bad mood when you’re dog is so happy to see you every day when you wake up.
4. Owning a dog is good for your heart. Petting a dog lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Studies show that dog owners sleep better at night and are more likely to survive a heart attack. Now, my university schooled side wants me to be critical of this and follow up on the sources, which I am going to do, but not now. Of course, a dog forces you to exercise, and it is well known that 30 minutes of low intensity exercise is good (and necessary) for your health.
Also, you’re more likely to interact socially with other pet owners. Dogs are great conversation starters, and you may even get a friendship or a date out of it!
5.It turns out that dogs are good at detecting cancer. He can actually safe your life. Stories of dogs licking certain lumps or places on the body that later turned out to be cancerous got backed up by scientific research. So if your dog is very interested in that weird lump on your body, you better let it get checked out by a doctor asap.
6. More and more employers see the benefits of letting their employees take their dog to work. Having a dog around lowers stress levels and forces people to take more breaks, go outside and get more energized which will help them be better at what they do.
Now, what more can I say? It’s obviously a good investment to get a dog (preferably rescue one), but only if you’ve got the time. Dogs don’t like to be alone as much as humans do, so don’t have a dog if you’re not around to take proper care of it!
Do you have a dog or are you more of a cat person? What benefits does your pet bring you? Please comment, share and like if you like it! 🙂
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