I suspect that 20,000 years ago, homo sapiens had no idea how taking in a wayward wolf pup would be the impetus for a love affair between two species that some argue is deeper than one between two people.
Which makes me wonder - well, more than wonder actually - it makes me believe that there was a degree of divine intervention and thus foresight involved in the coming together of these particular quadrupeds and bipeds.
Dogs have improved the lives of human beings immensely, whether as service dogs for those visually impaired, doing police work, sniffing out cancer or as the personal companion that offers a head for a weary human hand to rest at the end of a long day.
Their unconditional love and peaceful understanding in just what the "dogtor" ordered 20,000 years ago for us materially driven, stressed-out humans of today.
There are countless stories of how dogs have rescued humans from homes on fire, burglary and being lost. There are just as many of how dogs have rescued people from drug and alcohol abuse by being a nonjudgmental, compassionate creature then by teaching the value of responsibility and self-respect.
In Martin Kihn's book Bad Dog: A Love Story, Martin tells of how his Bernese Mountain Hola saved his life by dragging him out of bed to get to his AA meetings, stating that, "Her intuitiveness is truly amazing."
You don't have to be recovering from alcohol, drug abuse or in need of a service dog, to reap the health benefits of dog companionship. Just sharing your life with them is enough. They are like a big shot of an immune boosting multivitamin.
A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are 34 per cent more likely to get the exercise they need than non-dog owners are.
People who walked their dogs for more than 30 minutes a day had a remarkable decrease in hypertension, cholesterol levels and even depression!
The study concluded by saying they encouraged the participants in the study to continue walking dogs because the health improvements were so significant in such a short amount of time.
Dogs can even improve the health of women who are pregnant. A recent study from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and the University of Liverpool found that pregnant women who owned dogs were more likely to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and meet their required exercise needs of a minimum of 30 minutes a day when they owned a dog thus assisting in a healthy pregnancy.
Women also lost their baby weight faster, when combined with a healthy diet, when they had a dog by doing the low impact activity of daily dog walking for at least 30 minutes a day.
Children who live around two or more dogs or cats before their first birthday are less likely to have allergies of any sort, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at Warwick University in Coventry found that antibody levels among school-aged children who spent their first year with a pet that live indoors were significantly more stable, indicating that they had healthier immune systems than children not exposed to pets before their first birthday.
The research findings suggests that too much cleanliness early in life can leave the immune system weakened later on and the weakened immune system has been linked to soaring rates of childhood asthma in recent years.
Also, restricting an infants exposure to pets did not decrease its allergies to pets, but actually increased them!
The verdict is in, dogs have incredible healing abilities and many researchers have really started to take notice of the benefits of sharing a life with these amazing creatures.
As the love affair with dogs continues and they continue to weave themselves deeper into the fabric of our human existence there is no limit to how they can make us healthier spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
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