About 6 years ago I started asking my parents if we could get a dog. The response was not positive because they said they would be the one’s to end up taking care of it. My best friend was also trying to get her parents to get a dog too and was meeting with similar resistance. We decided to put together a presentation to our parents on all the benefits of owning a dog to try to convince them to say yes! We did some research and made up a chart with about 5 or 6 major points and some graphs that we found online. I went over to my friends house and we presented it to her parents then she came with me to my house and we presented it my mine. After the presentation my parents said they were proud of us for doing all that and they would think about it. Weeks went by and still no talk of a dog. Finally I got a tip from my grandmother who told me to ask my father if he had a dog when he was a kid? I asked him the next day and he said he did. I followed up by asking him how many he had and he said two. I replied, but all I want is one! He agreed because he said to not agree would be hypocritical of him. I wish I could say my elaborate presentation was the reason we got Clover (that’s my dog) but it was not. However one of the bullet points of that presentation was that pets help people lead healthier and maybe longer lives. I got to thinking about this recently after my dad sent me a picture of him and clover jogging at the beach. Now that both me and my sister are out of the house, I know he takes her to play soccer and other places so it got me thinking about that point in my presentation and that is what I will discuss in this blog.
(how cute is my dog when I snuck her into my dorm?)
Several studies from Harvard Medical School have shown that having a pet, specifically a dog, can make a person live longer. Some researchers even theorize that the health benefits of having a dog greatly outweigh that of having a cat simply because dogs are more affectionate. These studies have looked at a variety of variables that may lead to a longer life including a reduced risk of heart disease and lower level of stress. While there are several factors that go into the length of one’s life, it is ambiguous whether there is a direct relationship between dog ownership and the length of a person’s life.
One statistic provided by the American Heart Association states that “In a study of over 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.” This is a significant statistic and something that I can relate to my own life. While growing up, I played a variety of sports and while I was active at games and practices, my mom was never one that would frequently be active. Ever since having Clover, she has been more likely to take her to the trail in our town and go on a walk around the lake, which would be about 2 miles. However, I do wonder what constants were taken into account during this study because there are many factors that go into assessing a comparison of physical activity across a group. Were the dog owners more active in the first place? Were all the participants in the same age group? Elderly people are less likely to be as active as a younger person, regardless of having a dog.
While I have many questions surrounding this theory of dogs enhancing health and physical activity, it is something that has proven true to my family and myself.