Our four-legged family are typically pretty independent. However there are definitely times when you’re furry pal needs you. Like everyday without fail at 7am to go outside and take care of business. They also need you to feed them quality food, give them water and some require different levels of attention throughout the day. They make you feel needed but aren’t too needy. They need visits to the Vet and accommodations when you travel. Dogs teach us responsibility which is why many couples will start with a dog before they have a kid. Families who have dogs also give children of all ages a sense of purpose because everyone has a part (however big or small) in taking care of and loving Fido.
Humans cannot live alone. We all must live and interact with others, and when we do, we make an impact and others do the same for us. When a group of children was asked to list and rank 10 of their closest relationships according to who they would most likely turn to in a time of need, pets often scored higher than the children’s human relationships. And children are not the only ones. 97% of adults admit to confiding in and talking to their pets. It’s no wonder dogs are being bred and trained as service dogs to treat PTSD and other emotional disorders. They are extremely forgiving and loyal and miss you terribly when you’re gone. In fact, some pets experience separation anxiety sand anxiously await your return.
As it turns out, numerous studies prove that dogs do actually experience the feelings of love, affection and protection towards their owners. Scientists at Emory University conducted a neuroimaging study about odor processing in dogs’ brains. They trained dogs to remain very still so they could do an MRI of their brains while presenting them with smells, both strange and familiar. They found that the dogs’ reward centers lit up like fireworks when presented with their owner’s familiar scent. MRI data was different when a dog was given treats by a stranger vs. their familiar owner. Some believe it’s all conditioning. Either way, dogs light up when you walk in the door, their tales wag and they tend to make you feel pretty important and very loved whether it’s intentional or not. Dog lover and owner, Amy West says “ Blue is a bright light that gives unconditional love to our family. She always seems to know exactly what kind of love we each need and will lick our face, smile at us, sit on our feet, or just simply put a paw on us to show her love…”
Having a pet will at some point require the practice of forgiveness. Whether it be trash scattered on the floor, shoes used as a chew toy or an unexpected surprise on the carpet, dogs like us make mistakes. In the pet dynamic we get to practice receiving it most likely more than giving it. As stated, dogs tend to be pretty independent. Meaning they can go for lengths of time without your presence. Sadly, there can be that longer day without you, a missed walk and hundreds of obligations that result in less attention for our pets. Since dogs live completely in the moment and do not experience feelings of guilt they force us to move on whether it is us or them in need of forgiveness.
There’s a reason they are called man’s best friend. With dog shelters being more overcrowded than ever, it could be time to enhance your life with purpose, companionship, love and forgiveness by becoming a dog owner.
Jenn Bodnar is co-founder of Yoga Digest Magazine and has a genuine belief that yoga can benefit everyone. She is 200ERYT having attended multiple teacher trainings, facilitating yoga teacher trainings and studying and practicing yoga since 1999. Jenn is an avid fitness professional, who has taught and managed group fitness for many years. As a former competitive triathlete, gymnast and dancer Jenn loves the balance of strength, flexibility, perseverance and freedom that a yoga practice provides. She loves being active and outdoors with her family and friends. Jenn is a self proclaimed health food chef who hopes to leave a positive footprint by inspiring others to always choose happiness. “Watching people grow through yoga is one of the most amazing miracles to witness.”