Why is life with a dog better?
If your life is idle and empty, if it lacks excitement and colors – adopt a dog! I assure you that you’ll see everything in a brand new light and you’ll be rebarkably happy!
What’s the story of the dog–man relationship? Let’s hop in our time machine and travel 33 thousand years back. We’ll find ourselves in today’s Mongolia. The cold wind is blowing and the temperature dropped to -30 degrees. Let’s picture Ulrich – the representative of the homo sapiens – wearing a bear’s skin and sneaking through the Siberian taiga to steal a wolf pup. A different (more indulgent for the man) theory suggests that the lost wolf wasn’t stolen, but adopted by our kind-hearted Ulrich. Since then, the little canis lupus will be the man’s companion during hunts. Its main role will be participating in a wild chase after a mammoth which, exhausted, will fall after a few kilometers to be slain by the man. The division of “responsibilities” between the man and the wolf was quite beneficial. Tired, but still feisty, mammuthus didn’t harm the wolf because it was quickly killed off using a spear or an arrow. Other wolves or animals never managed to steal the meat of the prey, for our homo sapiens has learned to intervene in time. Instead of killing a single creature, the man could now get over a dozen of them during a single hunt! It was most likely the advantage of homo sapiens in terms of gathering food that caused homo neanderthalensis (the Neanderthal) to go extinct… At least that’s the conclusion reached by Pat Shipman – a retired Anthropology Professor at Penn State University – in her book Invaders. How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction. After domesticating the wolf, the man has started the process of crossbreeding in order to bring out the most desired features, such as speed, stamina or obedience.
Today, as stated by the International Cynological Federation (FCI), there are over 340 dog breeds. If you’re planning to adopt a dog, remember to pick registered breeders that make sure the puppies are cared for, vaccinated and happy. If the breed doesn’t matter to you, simply go to the shelter! That’s where you’ll find the abandoned dogs that are hungry for love, hugs and cuddles like no other animal… Such a lovely stray will offer you in return boundless affection, loyalty and trust.
Let’s move over to the main point: why should children grow up alongside canis lupus familiaris?
Studies conducted at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland showed that children (here – newborns up to 1-year-olds) who have lived with a dog at their house were more healthy, suffered less from ear infections and had to take antibiotics less often than children without a dog. The differences in the health states were overwhelming – they reached 31%. It was explained that the babies who have been around a dog had a higher resistance. The studies also showed that the effect was even stronger if the canis lupus spent less than six hours a day at home. Most likely because the more time he was outside, the more filth he brought back. This contributed to the bacteria variety which, in turn, resulted in a stronger effect on the child’s immunological system.
Studies conducted by Ann Arbor at the Universities of California and Michigan showed that dogs can protect children from asthma. Dr. Susan Lynch from Arbor’s team says that exposing them to the effects of dogs’ microbes prepares their immunological systems for proper functioning at an older age. Lynch points out that we live in sterile houses, which isn’t such a good thing. As it turns out, the presence of a dog can strengthen our children’s immune systems. It seems appropriate to repeat after Claudia Kawczynska, the founder of The Bark’s website: “Adopt a dog, heal a child!”
By letting children take care of a dog we teach them the following:
– responsibility; our four-legged friends require food, walks, baths and lots of love. A child needs to be patient and delicate to fulfill the dog’s needs,
– trust; the dog accepts all of the child’s emotional states: their anger, sadness, bad mood. That is why children develop trust which can later be used while building relationships with people,
– compassion; the child learns to take care of a pet and therefore learns how to be respectful, polite and empathetic towards other creatures,
– dealing with a painful loss; when the dog passes away, the child learns how to deal with grief,
– respect; our son/daughter starts to understand that the dog has its own space, needs rest, wants to be left alone when eating, and that it’s an individual being whose needs are as important as ours,
– self-esteem; children gain more confidence when they feel the dog’s unconditional love and commitment,
– loyalty; dogs are incredibly loyal which sets a good example for children on how to treat people who are important for us, especially our family and friends,
– physical strength; everyday walks, throwing a ball or any other form of playing are a great way to strengthen the leg and arm muscles,
– communication skills; walking the dog out can allow you to start talking with other dog owners and therefore increase your communication skills and make you more open to people,
– patience; teaching the commands or tricks takes time and equips children with inner peace and self-control,
– motivation; a beloved dog gives us the strength to get up in the morning or to clean up after him. His eyes show an endless love which drives the entire family,
– empathy; children that grow up alongside dogs gain the ability to view things from other people’s perspective. They can perfectly understand the problems without underestimating or ignoring anything – they simply sympathize.
As I’ve said before: a dog is a tsunami of love, an abundance of joy and a volcano of energy… It’s pure happiness that looks at you with the biggest commitment and endless loyalty. Adopt a dog, and you’ll gain a friend who “is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself”*.
https://loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=15-P13-00015&segmentID=4 – an interview with Professor Pat Shipman
**in the picture George, a four-months-old border collie