By DORIAN NEIGHBORS
The phrase “a man’s best friend” has been known for many years, but the reasoning behind a dog and human bond was unknown until psychologist Alan Beck of Purdue University and psychiatrist Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania recorded what happens when someone pets a friendly dog. They found “that the person’s blood pressure lowered, heart rate slowed, breathing became more regular and muscle tension relaxed.” Furthermore, a study published recently in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine showed “changes in blood chemistry demonstrating reduced amounts of stress-related hormones.” This gives the owner a relaxing environment to come home to. Dogs can also lead to a more active lifestyle due to the frequent walks that dogs can require. The consistent exercise can be extremely beneficial, even if it is just a brief walk.
Studies have also shown that owning a dog can lower stress and anxiety levels just as well as some medications. Pets bring a significant amount of affection and loyalty into a person’s life, and that consistent positive affection has powerful effects on the brain; the loyalty of a dog can even be equal to a human friendship. Those who own dogs are likely to have higher self-esteem, a better temperament, and a talent for making friends. The need to belong is a central need for humans, and a dog can provide the support of a real friendship. Humans and dogs have the ability to form an unbreakable bond, which makes for an exceptional friendship.
Brandon Saglam, a junior at Citrus Valley High School, spoke about his 11-year-old German Shepard-Husky mix, Elizabeth. His family was given Elizabeth by relatives in Turkey when she was six years old, where Brandon had previously known her. When asked how Elizabeth has helped him, he said “she’s both adorable and has an attitude which is great, and if I ever need someone there to hug because I am often home alone, she’s always there.” Brandon believes her attitude is very special, as she is “extremely docile” and sometimes even acts more like a cat than a dog. She loves to receive attention and hugs, and is very special to Brandon and his family.
Jenna Achilley, a junior at Citrus Valley, has a five-month-old German Shepard named Otto. Jenna’s father bought Otto from a breeder where he was on a waiting list for three years. Her father loved his personality when he got to meet Otto. Jenna went on to say that Otto “ran straight up to [her] dad, and he already favored Otto’s lineage,” so Otto was a perfect fit for the family. She thinks everything about Otto is very special and said she has “always believed that animals can tell when your emotions are off other than normal, and even though he is hyper and can’t control himself, he acts differently when he knows I’m upset.”
Rhiannon Scray, a junior at Citrus Valley, has a 12-year-old Miniature Pinscher-Jack Russell Terrier mix named Max. Her family got Max when he was “scratching at [her] mom’s co-worker’s door” and when she opened the door, Max bolted in and would not leave, so the co-worker offered Max to Rhiannon’s mom. Rhiannon says that Max is “the cutest dog” and “he is so full of excitement and love all the time.” He is very friendly to everyone he meets and loves to lay with his family on the couch, and especially loves laying on blankets.
Mrs. Rooney, the Advanced Placement Biology teacher at Citrus Valley, owns two dogs: Misty and Zoey. Misty is a nine-year-old yellow Labrador and Zoey is a four-year-old Doberman mix. Mrs. Rooney says that whenever she has a bad day, she goes home and they “just love me so much and they make me so happy and calm me down.” She also added that they keep her active because Zoey in particular needs to be walked often. Misty and Zoey have been a very calming presence in her life, and she said that Misty is a “very lovable pet; she just loves to be around people and loves everyone.” On the other hand, “Zoey needs to be taken care of, so I have to be very careful with her and very gentle with her. She’s very protective.” Mrs. Rooney believes that the special bond formed between the person and the dog is what really makes having a pet special.