Pet a Dog
By now, we are all familiar with the growing popularity of emotional support animals, and therapy dogs in particular. You see them accompanying travelers at airports, comforting hospital patients, and bringing warmth and joy to hospice residents.
Certified therapy dogs are brought into libraries and elementary schools to sit or lie quietly next to children who read aloud to them, giving those kids confidence in their reading abilities and improving their reading skills over time. Not surprising as dogs are our oldest and closest companions – the very first animal that we domesticated as pets thousands of years ago.
“Dogs make people feel good,’’ says Brian Hare, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. In fact, he says that the way your dog stares lovingly at you is their way of “hugging you with their eyes.”
“When parents look at their baby and their baby stares into their eyes, even though the baby can’t talk, parents get an oxytocin boost just by eye contact,’’ Hare says. “Dogs have somehow hijacked this oxytocin bonding pathway, so that just by making eye contact, or playing with and hugging our dog, the oxytocin in both us and our dog goes up. This is why dogs are wonderful in any kind of stressful situation.’’
So go pet your dog. If you don’t have one, consider adopting a furry friend and making both your lives immeasurably better for it!