Man’s calming friend

People often say that a dog is man’s best friend. New research that shows walking a dog can make people feel more relaxed. “Interactions with dogs can decrease human stress and induce positive emotional responses,” according to South Korean scientists, who scanned brain activity in 30 adults while they walked, brushed and played with a poodle. Interacting with a dog has a “positive effect on both relaxation and concentration. But it’s best to bring a ball or find a stick to throw while out that walk, as the researchers found evidence that playing with a dog makes people not only more relaxed but also more focused. Getting out a brush and teasing out dirt or debris from the animal’s fur gives you yet another concentration boost. The Korean study followed recent research suggesting interacting with dogs increases oxytocin, the “love hormone,” as well as work published in 2021 showing university students who kept a pet dog were less stressed than peers who didn’t. The effect is two-way, according to work published last year in the journal Evolution, Medicine & Public Health, which found dogs remained healthier for longer when walked and given attention by their owners.

Not ready for a full-time furry friend in your home? Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog, or cat-sit for a friend, or donate time at a local animal shelter—even short interactions provide enough pet exposure to reap some of these rewards. Research has shown that simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, an astonishing 84 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder patients paired with a service dog reported a significant reduction in symptoms, and 40 percent were able to decrease their medications, reported a recent survey. And: How many people are willing to go outside at the crack of dawn and exercise in the rain or snow? Dog owners often have no choice—they have to walk their pet, thus providing them with an excuse-proof daily dose of exercise. A 2011 study found that pet owners had better self-esteem. “Caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose to the owner,” says Barron. Plus, pets are a good social catalyst for meeting people who share your animal interests.

There’s some evidence that brief bouts of puppy love may help us think better. Researchers collaborated on a randomized controlled trial of 8 and 9-year-old school children in the U.K. She and her colleagues found that kids who had twice-weekly, short exchanges with dogs in the classroom had less stress and improved executive functioning. They say those benefits lingered. “Animals, and dogs in particular, live in the moment. They’re experiencing their environment with wonder and awe all the time, and they’re not bringing up what happened to them earlier in the day nor thinking about what to do in the future.”

Just fur fun

I can’t take my dog to the park as all the ducks keep trying to bite him…
My fault for getting one that’s pure bread.

How are dog catchers paid?
By the pound!

My wife asked me if I’ve seen the dog bowl.
I replied: I never knew he could.

My dog ate a whole bag of Scrabble tiles, so I took him to the vet…
No word yet.

March 21st Birthdays

1986 – Sonequa Martin-Green, 1965 – Cynthia Geary, 1979 – Rani Mukevji, 1979 – Melissa Gorga

1910 – Julio Gallo, 1685 – Johann Sebastian Bach,  1962 – Matthew Broderick, 1987 – Scott Eastwood

Morning Motivator: