In The Country Magazine
In The Country Lifestyle

The Benefits Of Owning A Dog

For most of my life, I have considered myself a devout lover of horses above all other animals. However, as I go through life, most of which I have been lucky enough to share with various canine companions, from lollapy Labradors to mischievous Miniature Dachshunds and beyond, I am realising that I am a dog person through and through.

What’s the saying? ‘The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.’ It’s true, people are too quick to lie, go behind your back, scheme and let you down, but a dog – never. They wouldn’t dream of it. Partly, one would argue, because they are incapable of comprehending such things, however, that doesn’t matter. They have the purest of souls. When you befriend a dog and earn their trust, you’ll have a friend for life. It is as if we are drawn to them.

This goes for almost any home scenario, whether your dog is purely a pet, or a working dog, or in our case (and the case of this piece), a combination of the two. The principles are the same and I am sure, by reading this, you’ll be able to relate to a thing or two.

Since the dawn of domestication, dogs have been faithful companions and servants to mankind. They have protected us, been family pets, hunted with us, worked livestock with us, kept vermin under control, served in the military and police forces, assisted the disabled, provided joy and a sense of friendship through therapy to the elderly, those who are suffering from mental and physical illness and have been in so many cases, the best friend and top-secret keeper of many children growing up – a hugely important role!

Aside from companionship, dogs provide us with more than you might think. Regardless of how and why you own dogs, or whether you’re as sentimental about them as I am, it is hard to dispute science.

It is suggested that owning a dog improves your cardiovascular health. Studies have indicated that owning a dog is linked to lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol.

Many of you who are heading out into the field with your canine companion this season will undoubtedly agree with this one; owning a dog keeps you fit. A responsible dog owner will walk their dog regularly – ideally daily. Many of us living rurally will have the benefit of ample fields, woodland and other natural wonders where we can safely exercise our dogs.

Our gun dogs and working dogs will most likely be being trained regularly and there was likely many a day spent out in the field with your loyal companion by your side, waiting to pick up your quarry (if you’re a good enough shot!) over the past season. Beating dogs will work their socks off on a day’s shoot and it’s no mean feat to keep up with them either.

Dogs can also help to improve your social life.

Cast your mind back to the films in which the eligible (or not-so eligible) bachelor uses his dog, or in some cases a friend’s dog to try and fetch himself a new partner. Let’s face it ladies, a man with a cute dog is automatically more attractive. So gents, (ladies this goes for you too), I recommend grabbing Digby’s lead and heading to the local park or dog-walking hotspot. Dogs can be the best wingmen and are skilled icebreakers and conversation starters. The weird grunting noise Ben the Beagle makes, the drooling problem Doris the Doodle has or the strange but endearing walk Walter the Whippet now has after his surgery, are all surefire conversation starters.

Your dog can act as your stress relief. This isn’t just limited to dogs, spending even just five minutes with a pet can help to lower levels of anxiety and blood pressure which can mount up when we feel stressed. In today’s world, many of us stress over work, money, relationships, family, health… the list is almost endless.

The children are driving you mad, they just won’t sleep. Cooper is waiting for you with a wagging tail and loving look in his eye. The cows got out on the farm today or how about the work deadline you’ve been anxious about is fast approaching, your faithful dog greets you eagerly at the door, ready for you to tell them all about it. It is as if the stress evaporates when you’re in their company. Even though your pet is a predominantly a silent being, their presence in a room and in your life speaks volumes. Being around pets increases levels of two neuro-chemicals; serotonin and dopamine, which are vital for feeling calm and content.

Owning a dog can help to keep loneliness at bay and fight off depression.

Similarly to what I said above, there is so much going on in modern day life that creates a whirlwind of thoughts, emotion and often negativity that we struggle to switch off. Our dogs provide us with comfort, love and are in many cases a distraction from worry. On those days when you really don’t feel like getting out of bed and facing the world, your dog needs you.

If you have an isolated job, perhaps you work from home or you’re a sole charge groom on a yard full of horses. Your dog can keep you company. Many farmers will bring their dog to work with them, keeping them company whilst they work the fields in their tractor. Having a co-pilot can make all the difference. Even though they may not reply to you as you ramble on telling them about what happened yesterday, or who’s got on your nerves this week, they’re listening and that is the most important thing. They won’t ever judge you, only comfort and humour you when you need it.

Our dogs are part of our lives, and only for a short time in comparison to how long many of us live ours, but during that time, we are everything to them. Be kind, caring, empathetic, forgiving and responsible. I’d say, they need us far more than we need them, but I feel in some cases, it is the other way around – we need them more.

I’m sure many of you experienced this during the lockdowns, read our Dogs. Keeping us sane through lockdown. article for more…

Images sourced via Unsplash and Shutterstock.

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