Sunday, January 17, 2016

Do you own a dog? Have you ever had a dog for a pet?

My love for dogs goes way back to childhood when our family usually had a family pet. The dog belonged to no one in particular, but to all of us. Mother said she didn't care for dogs or cats. Her family was not one that embraced pets for the children. But my father was very fond of dogs. So they had a stand off when he or the kids wanted a dog. Mother ended up feeding the pet most of the time, but we all loved and played with it. But animals stayed outside.

This is Kodi, our beloved Samoyed, who grew old in NC after we moved here.

Our dog stories go back to Daddy's bulldog who saved my brother Rex from a snake bite. The dog attacked the reptile that was about to strike the child, took the bite and died. I was not born at that time, but I've heard the story all my life.

We have all heard of the many benefits of a companion dog. Research shows that petting a dog brings down our blood pressure. We see in restaurants and stores now, dogs with special harnesses that say Service Dog. We have dogs that help diabetes patients, epilepsy patients, deaf and blind people, cancer patients and now I hear Dr. Weill tell us more.

Having a dog for a pet reduces our stress. When we look into a dog's eyes and they look into ours, both have an increase in oxytocin, a substance our body makes that helps us to stay calm. 

"Widely referred to as the love hormone, oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction."

Since I have had my new puppy, I have been much calmer. I realized I am less anxious, and feel less stressed. That was before I knew anything about the oxytocin effect of having a dog.

Last night I told someone that I never get mad at Lexie, and  I always feel warm and tender toward her. I described my feelings lately as "almost like being in love."  I felt similar to when Barry and I were young and in love. Our oxytocin levels must have been soaring then because I loved everything about him and he felt the same way. 

Oxytocin appears to play a role in protecting the intestine from damage, with potential for use in treatment of irritable bowel disease.


So many people suffer with this ailment and doctors have very little success treating it.
There is now promise of using this hormone to prevent the vomiting and intestinal distress of  chemo patients. 

I am lucky as are most dog lovers. I can look into Lexie's intense gaze for a long time. Our social behavior is amazingly affected. We are both more loving, and she jumps into my arms and we cuddle and I tell her how much I love her. I leave her at home, go out to see friends or go to a store, and my mood is still good because of the oxytocin level. I speak to strangers, smile and invite their smiles. Who would have thought seven pounds of lively fur covered personality could reach out and touch so many.
This is Lexie, my present little companion, who has changed my life in the past three months. 


DJan said...

Awwww! Lexie is so cute, and she's certainly changed your life for the better. I don't have a dog at present, but I certainly have in the past. When I visit my sister, I sleep with her dog. Makes me feel good, and now I know why. :-)

Glenda Beall said...

DJan, part of the reason I knew I was ready to get another dog was keeping my sister's dogs at my house. I realized how much I was missing that companionship. I found it so interesting to know there is a physical reason why dogs are good for us. They have been companions to humans for thousands of years. I know there has been new research on the brain of the dog. I want to read more about that. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate my loyal readers.

Deanna Klingel said...

I'm a believer. For several years I have visited nursing homes with my therapy dogs. I even wrote a book about their experiences making a difference in other's lives. Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog is the book. I've observed the things you are experiencing Glenda. Dogs do make a difference. I'm glad Lexie worked out for you.

Glenda Beall said...

I really enjoyed your book on therapy dogs, Deanna. I wonder if Lexie could ever be a therapy dog. She loves people, and she wants to please me.
We'll have to talk about this.
Thanks for commenting.