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Lisa and doggy

The Dog Days of Summer (Woof)

Dogs can be a great source of comfort and motivation in our lives.

The bond between humans and dogs has stood the test of time.  They are loyal, loving, goofy and can be completely forgiving.  There is an undeniable correlation between having a dog and an improvement in mental health. Dog people love to share stories and picture of their pooches.  Dog people are known as people who are fun to be around, altruistic and giving.

The Centers for Disease Control states having a dog can increase your fitness levels, lower stress and bring happiness to their owners.  Benefits also include a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  Many dog owners have fewer feelings of loneliness as well as increased socialization opportunities.  The motivation to get outside and walk your dog promotes an increase in exercise and outdoor activities which can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The benefits are endless!

Although there are countless benefits to having a dog, a canine companion comes with a significant amount of responsibility. You must feed and water them; provide medical care; and ensure they get proper exercise.  Many of us love dogs but aren’t in a position to have one in our home.  It’s a great opportunity to volunteer!  There are many animal rescue organizations that need help.  You can foster a dog!  Fostering a dog requires you to provide love and support to a dog in need.  The rescue organizations usually provide the medical care.  Some will say “how can you love them and give them up?”  I always say, “Because I saved a life.” Fostering provides social opportunities as well.  These include taking your foster dog to events to attract adopters and going to the adoption center for meet and greets.  If you can’t foster, volunteer at events or collect items to help out.

Volunteering also has benefits to our mental health!

Our elderly population gains benefits from our furry friends as well.  A canine companion can help relieve feelings of anxiety by triggering the release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and oxytocin.  Because there is a connection between stress and physical pain, having a dog in your golden years can assist in decreasing pain from arthritis and other chronic medical conditions.  It also aids in relieving feelings of isolation. Of course, the dog-friendly team at Spectrum Health is here for you whenever you need a higher level of support, too.

My foster dogs, Johnny Potatoes, Mike Wazowski, Bea, Holly Golightly, Minnie Pearl and Imogene would attest to the wonders of helping a rescue.  My forever dogs, Leon, Lola and Vivienne have provided me with the unconditional love and companionship only a best friend can provide.  Adopt don’t shop!

Lisa Ardovini

Program Manager II

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