PAW PRINTS ON MY HEART
By Gudrun Jones, Co-Founder & President
of the Lakeside Spay & Neuter Cente
Those big brown eyes gazing at you in adoration, the cool, wet nose nudging you to get out of bed in the morning and the never ending wag of the tail that symbolizes the joy of being around you. Multiply this by 16 and you have a glimpse into my life.
We know that dogs are dedicated companions that offer unquestioning attachment, agree with everything you say, love you and acceptance. Numerous studies have shown that owning a dog can be beneficial to your health. A new research suggesting the hormonal changes that occur when humans and dogs interact; owning a dog can help people cope with depression and certain stress related disorders. Nursing homes that allow dogs or have a resident dog can ease the loneliness of the elderly and will make the transition from home to a nursing facility easier, being exposed to a dog can also help children overcome allergies.
Therapy dogs have been used to visit nursing homes, calm children and help ease pain in people undergoing physical rehabilitation. Preliminary results show that a few minutes of stroking your pet prompts a release of a number of “feel good” hormones in humans. In a large Missouri Study, 50 dog owners and 50 non-dog owners over the age of 18 sat in a quiet room for 5-35 minutes with their own dog, a friendly but strange dog, and a robotic dog. The robotic dog was included because electronic pooches are being studied as a possible resource for the elderly who can not look after a live animal.
Before each session which involved stroking and petting, researchers checked blood samples of both humans and dogs. The dog’s blood dropped as soon as they were petted, the human’s blood pressure dropped by approximately 10% about 30 minutes after they began petting the animal. The study also found that serotonin levels (serotonin is a chemical that helps among other things relay signals from one area of the brain to another, it makes us more mentally alert, improves sleep and can make us less sensitive to pain) increased when interacting with the human’s own dog and actually decreased when interacting with the robot dog.
Researchers are trying to determine which types of people would best benefit from being with pet animals and how often they need to interact with them to have results. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia are hoping that animal assisted therapy becomes a mainstream medically-accepted intervention that would be prescribed to patients and, in the long run, be reimbursed by insurance companies.
The study was funded by the Skeeter Foundation, a group headed by Dr. Stephens, founder of Veterinarian Pet Insurance, a nationwide insurer of pet medical coverage. The Lakeside Spay & Neuter Center wishes to extend a big THANK YOU for the support and attendance to the Country Critter Bash. It is your good will and support that keeps us going.
Meet Dog of the Month “Little Bit.” For information on Little Bit or the Ranch call Gudrun Jones, 766-3813.