Growing up, I would always hear the phrase "Dogs are a man's best friend," but I had no idea that rang true until I received a dog of my own.
I welcomed Sophie into my life eight years ago after she was given to me as a birthday gift. It was love at first sight at when we both met. Since getting my Cocker Spaniel, she has enriched my life and made me healthier and happier.
We have shared many adventures together over the last few years as we travel the world together. From Singapore and Europe to Mexico, she is always there to witness my highs and lows in life, and probably one of the few dogs in the world that has traveled to many countries.
I frequently share on Instagram my personal stories of traveling the world with my furry companion and how she saved me over and over again during some of the lowest moments of my life.
From going through a bad break up to having panic attacks and having nervous breakdowns, I now no longer face those issues thanks to my beloved companion. To simply put it, having a dog has changed my life. She fills my life with meaning, and teaches me about unconditional love, forgiveness, loyalty and companionship every single day. If you're lucky enough to have loved a dog, you would be able to tell anyone that dogs have the profound ability to not only sympathize, but to help heal. Which is why, it is no coincidence that dogs are brought into hospitals and rehabilitation centers to make people feel better, physically and spiritually.
With that being said, from my personal experience, here are five benefits of having a dog in your life.
1. My Dog boosts my mood.
Sophie helps me in every aspect of my life including joining me in my yoga and dance journeys. When I was traveling the world and living in Italy, I dedicated every single performance to her because she was the main reason for my success. I brought her with me everywhere including rehearsals. As a dancer, the tediousness and strenuous demands of dance meant that I would be facing injuries, stress, anxiety and face a full range of emotions every single day.
Sophie was there throughout it all to calm me down when I was overwhelmed at times, to shower me with her warm, wet kisses after every rehearsal, and to provide me with support by just being there watching. Psychologists from Miami and St. Louis Universities found that the benefits of having a canine companion can be equivalent to having a human companion.
2. My Dog is better than medicine.
I look forward to coming home and being greeted by Sophie everyday. Even if I went downstairs for two minutes to get the mail, she still welcomes me home at the door as if I was away for a long time. Being a "dog person" has restorative benefits. Last year, a study found that owning a pet–-especially a dog–-improved cardiovascular health by keeping people active. At some of the lowest points of my life, Sophie helped reduce stress responses in my body, and lowered my blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight. She automatically improved my mood just by allowing me to pet her and be in her presence.
To me, dogs are magical creatures that help ward off bad energy. It is no surprise that dog owners have been found to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and according to a study by the British Journal of Health (2004), dog owners also have the added benefit of having fewer medical problems than those without pets.
3. My Dog helps me stay active.
Another added benefit of having a dog is that she encourages me to exercise more! Sophie and I go for walks at the park every morning at 6 AM,12 PM and 5 PM. After which, she spends her time watching me do yoga or circuit exercises at home every morning. She loves the energy I give out when I exercise. Apart from the dog walking alone, dog owners were also found to achieve more advanced stages of movement compared to those who own dogs and do not walk them. The Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2010) concluded that dog walkers generally walked about an hour longer than their non-dog walking counterparts!
4. My Dog helps relieve stress.
One of the best benefits of having Sophie is that she is a master at helping me relieve stress and feel calm. Sophie is a great form of support when I get frustrated about not nailing a yoga pose. For some unknown reason, whenever she's with me when I do yoga I seem to be able to remain so calm that I am able to focus better on my poses.
No matter how angry, stressed out, or anxious I may be feeling, Sophie seems to know that her presence will always snap me out of that state. I am dependent on her as much as she is on me. According to a study from SUNY Buffalo (2006), 240 married couples with dogs were subjected to various types of stressful tasks where they were either alone, with their spouse or were able to see their dog before or after the task. Unsurprisingly, the lowest responses to stress were among those who were allowed to see their dogs. Maybe there should be a mandatory “bring your dog to work" day! Sophie and I love splashing on Radha Beauty Lavender Oil for better sleep and a stress free day.
Eight years later, our bond is even stronger than before and I can't imagine what life will be like without her. Whoever said that diamonds are a woman's best friend, obviously never had a dog. They shower you with unconditional love and affection, and are also interested in meeting every single new person who walks through the door. You can't help but go along for the ride.
Does your dog help you on your journey to mental, physical, and emotional health? Let me know below!
Originally published April 6, 2017