As If We Didn’t Know!
Scientific researchers keep coming up with new ways to tell dog owners what they already know: dogs are good for your health. Your four legged friend doesn’t even have to be specially trained to reduce your blood pressure and encourage an increase in physical activity.
In a study of the effect of dog ownership on physical activity, The Population Health Intervention Research Centre of the University of Calgary in Canada found that “By acting as cues for physical activity, dogs may help their owners remain active across seasons. Policies and programs related to dog-ownership and dog-walking, such as dog-supportive housing and dog-supportive parks, may assist in enhancing population health by promoting physical activity.”
But this connection between having a dog and being more physically active is only half the story. What non-dog lovers miss out on entirely is the emotional support that dogs provide.
Those who can only see dogs as ‘beasts’, will never know how comforting the soft gaze of a canine companion can be. At times when there is not another human on the planet who seems to understand your pain, a dog will gently lean against your leg and calmly let you know you are not alone. It does not matter what emotional trauma the dog owner is going through, divorce, loss of a job, bereavement, post traumatic stress… There are things that one can share with your dog, that you would never tell another human.
For Specialist Mike Ballard, his service dog, Apollo, has helped him through the worst symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder that is a remnant of an explosion in Afghanistan that ended his career as an Army medic.
“The room starts to breathe in and out. You get really dizzy and instantly sick to your stomach,” Ballard said, describing his worst symptoms. Apollo, a 2-year-old short-haired collie, is always near Ballard, so that when an episode begins, “I can just sit there with him and pet him.”
At one time, Mike had been visiting a psychiatrist on a weekly basis but with Apollo’s hep that has dimished to occaional visits on an as-needed basis.