Dog. Man’s best friend, a member of the family or a hassle to avoid?
Dogs have become a huge part of society from entertainment and media to medical services and support. This emergence of dogs into everyday life has had an impact on the relationships they have with people.
Most people who think of dogs will likely see them as common pets, and it is through this relationship that a dog can benefit people in moments of stress.
According to a study by Jill Johnson from the University of Waterloo, mental and emotional support are both important reasons for people to keep dogs as pets. Jonathan Cash, a 26-year-old student at the University of Memphis and full-time phlebotomist, said he got his dogs after he graduated from high school and credits their support as one of the reasons for his success.
“My dogs help me with relieving stress,” Jonathan Cash said. “They’re basically my lifeline to a happy and healthy life, both mentally and emotionally.”
Within the area of mental and emotional support, dogs also help their owners establish a daily routine.
“I am not a morning person. Surprisingly, purchasing a puppy has changed that,” said 22-year-old Cassie Groves. “Taking the dog out in the mornings has positively reshaped my schedule, especially making it easier to wake up in the mornings for work.”
Beyond mental and emotional support, dog relationships can also encourage physical activity.
“Physically, my dogs keep me active when I take them outside to play,” Cash said. “It adds extra activity to my life that I would not have without them.”
This physical interaction with dogs has led to the rise of dog parks in large cities and apartment complexes.
According to data posted by the Trust for Public Land, there has been a 40 % increase in dog parks since 2009.
Management at the Bradford Chase apartment complex in Jackson, Tennessee understands the demand and success of dog parks. Their new “Bark Park” offers a gated play area for dogs inside the neighborhood.
“Our new puppy loves the dog park,” said Groves. “Plus, it is so convenient because it is located just outside of our apartment. It is a win-win situation for the puppy and us.”
Not everybody is comfortable around dogs, and in fact some people prefer to avoid interaction with dogs, including 67-year-old Anita Snapp.
“As long as I can remember, I have been afraid of dogs, really any four-legged animal,” said Snapp.
Among the reasons Snapp has no interest in dogs as pets include how much dogs shed, the amount of time it takes to care for them and their tendency to randomly jump on herself and other people.
“I can’t understand how someone could dislike dogs, but either way dogs are here to stay because of the love they do provide for so many pet owners like myself,” Cash said.