You know how people always put health at the top of their New Year’s resolutions list? Here’s a quirky way to achieve and keep that goal this time: care for a dog. Dogs are known to be such certified germ magnets that one Finnish study was able to show that the presence of a canine actually strengthens the immune systems of babies exposed to them. This unusual finding notwithstanding, one well-known fact about dogs is their ability to relieve stress. Some dorm universities in the U.S. even allow their students to bring their dogs or cats from home to help relieve the rigors of academic life. Walking your dog regularly improves your fitness condition, too. A mutt that needs daily walks can prove to be a great motivator to get its owner moving, as well.
3 Benefits of Owning a Dog: What Dog Ownership Can Mean for You
Here are some of the other lesser-known health benefits of having a pooch:
3. They are great home companions.
Discovery Magazine says that the mind of a dog is roughly the equivalent of that of a human toddler. As such, they are finely attuned to read human body language and emotions. Translation? They won’t mind you snuggling up to them at the end of a particularly rough day. Speaking of which…
2. Dogs can make a positive impact in the workplace.
Did you know that having dogs in the workplace may also contribute to employee performance? A 2012 study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management suggested this. At the end of the said study, researchers concluded that the presence of dogs in the office may have contributed to the reported higher job satisfaction among the subjects of the study. Since stress can cause absenteeism and burnout, this relevant finding can be applied towards making workplaces more pet-friendly.
1. Dogs are a scientifically proven form of therapy.
Animal-assisted therapy uses animals such as dogs to help people recover or better cope with health problems like heart disease and mental health disorders. It makes sense given that dogs are loyal and non-judgmental. We have a local counterpart in the form of the Dr. Dog program of The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). It aims to help and heal people by lending their “Canine Consultants” in hospitals, orphanages, and schools to spread warmth and cheer to those who need it.
A therapy dog.
The best breed for you will depend on your unique needs, budget, and lifestyle. Do you live in a flat or does your home have a sprawling garden? Are you outdoors often or do you spend most of your time on the couch? Do you want a mutt you can play with or would you like a reliable guard dog?
For those wanting their own bantay (the vernacular term for guard dog), the popular dog whisperer Cesar Millan lists down the Bullmastiff, the Doberman Pinscher, the Rottweiler, the Komodor, and the Puli as among the top guard dog breeds. Their physical strength and courage are perfect for helping secure your property. On the other hand, if you are physically active, live in a spacious home, and are near open spaces, you might want to go for German Shepherds or Labrador Retrievers. Those who live with people with allergies, meanwhile, can consider Shih Tzus and Malteses as they are easier to manage for such individuals, although of course the best course of action would be to consult your physician first about your plan to adopt.
A Personal Account
My home counts Max, a nine-year old long-haired chihuahua, as one of its residents. He’s been with us for close to six years now and he yet still gets mistaken for a puppy. Needless to say, he tends to elicit reactions that range from “Awww…how cute!” to “Are you sure he’s a chihuahua? He looks more like a Pomeranian!”
Max, our pet chihuahua.
I wish I could say that all cute dogs act cute, but the fact of the matter is that they really don’t. While technically a toy dog, Max behaves very much like a watchdog at home. We bought him primarily because we needed a dog we could bring indoors. Learning the peculiarities of chihuahuas was thus a learning process for us. Chihuahuas are entertaining, cuddly, and have an infinite capacity for puppy dog eyes, but they also bark a lot, shed a lot, and can be temperamental. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons when picking a particular breed.
Acquiring a dog is pretty easy as there are several local shelters (see below) where one can adopt dogs that need homes. It’s caring for one that’s the challenging part. Dogs can add life to your years, for sure, but they also need to be taken care of. Having a living, breathing creature depend on you for at least a decade is a great responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Getting one shouldn’t just be a passing fancy. A couple of major considerations would be:
Moolah – They cost money. Someone once mentioned that having a dog is like having an extra mouth to feed, and it’s true. You will need to take into account how much to feed, say, a Dalmatian weekly versus a Beagle. Larger dogs tend to eat more. Then there are the healthcare costs like vaccinations and vet consultations. Note also that purebred dogs are more prone to certain types of health problems.
Expect dogs to have health issues, too.
Time – They demand attention. Regardless of the breed, you’ll need to walk your pooch regularly, so anticipate adjusting your sked for that. Grooming can also eat up your precious minutes. For instance, if you get a dog with a long or curly coat, you’ll need to groom it several times a week. If you’re usually pressed for time, maybe you’d be better off with a dog that requires less maintenance.
Animal Welfare Groups in the Philippines
Fully prepared to love and adopt a new family member? Here are some of the local organizations that can help you do so:
Philippine Animal Rescue Team
The Philippine Animal Welfare Society
CARA Welfare Philippines
Philippine Animal Lovers Society