Thursday, 8 November 2012

Gratitude Day 9 Love of Dogs

Xmas 2006 with Kevin and Toto

Today I am grateful for the love of dogs. As those who know me I had the pleasure of having Toto my Bichon Frise in my life for many years. He taught me so much but the most important thing he taught was what unconditional love truly is. No matter your mood he would be there wagging his tail and greeting you. There was no room in his heart for anything other than love.

I don't believe you truly experience this until you have a dog (that is because I have never had any other pet to know if the response is the same from cats, horses, guinea pigs, ferrets etc). We have all seen those face book comments of living as our dogs do, welcome your partner at the door with a grin on your face, never hold a grudge, always ask for help, be loyal, show pure joy, rest and relax, be creative, do not try to be anything you are not - be comfortable in your own skin. Watch your dog at play and rest, there is no yesterday or tomorrow, they will teach you how to be completely present in the moment of what you are doing. All these things we learn from our dogs.

He never touched the presents under the tree but once you gave him one he didn't need help to open it

Compared to our life's a dog's is short. When they pass a little piece of our heart goes with them, so we always want to give them the very best. We should be treating ourselves the same way by exercising, eating well, spending time with loved ones, lie in the sun, do the things you love.

The more you teach your dogs and reward them for their actions, they more they want to learn. We should be no different step out of your comfort zone and learn something new crafts, sports, writing, reading, acting, what ever it is that your heart just leaps when you think of it, give it a try it will be rewarding in so many ways. I tried something new with this blog and I am really enjoying thinking of new things to write about each day.

Something that is the most important thing we can learn from our dogs is how to treat others. They are always so happy to see you and also any new friends you may bring home with you or take them out to meet, whether they are human or animal they are excited to make new friends. Even if something happens they forgive and forget and love innocently all others. If only we could learn to do this as humans how much better would our world be.

2008 Christmas - New Year Break

Most people will say there dogs bring them more than an excuse to have to go for a walk, (whether we walk our dogs because they need it or we enjoy our walk when we have a companion it doesn't matter) there are emotional and physical benefits also by reducing your stress, you always have someone to talk to, and they allow us more easily to talk with strangers at that initial meeting.

More and more these days we are training dogs to be helpers to humans in numerous ways. Some train to comfort the elderly in nursing homes and the sick in hospital. Research shows that nursing home residents reported less loneliness when visited by dogs than when they spent time with other people. Others to be companions to act as warning signals to people who suffer seizures, blood sugar level problems, they alert their owner to the what is about to happen to allow the person time to take the appropriate measures to prevent the incident or protect themselves, even positioning themselves as a cushion for the fall - extraordinary.

Service Dogs can perform tasks such as closing drawers, lift and carry items, retrieve dropped or lost items, be used as a brace for people with walking difficulty, open and close doors, activate light switches, pull a manual wheelchair, accompany their owner in public, bark an alert for help, assist with daily tasks such as making the bed, doing the laundry etc, move limbs for people with paralysis and much more. 

Whilst I was completing a major landscaping project 2009

By assisting their owner with certain tasks such as pulling the wheelchair, these dogs can help their owner to save their strength for other activities. Because of this, and their increased independence, some users have found employment or moved out of care facilities with the help of their dog. Also saving the owner money by reducing their need for paid care. These dogs, by nature, lend their masters a friend and positive mindset too. They allow that person to take part in activities that they otherwise might not be able to do, gain self-esteem by doing things for themselves.

Surveys targeting pet owners 60 years and older showed less stress and loneliness, better nutrition and a stronger focus on the present. Seniors walking a dog enjoy a boost in parasympathetic nervous system activity, the region of the brain that supports calm and rest in the body. Activities in the care-taking role of a dog give older individuals a sense of responsibility and purpose that contributes to their overall well-being. An often cited but small-scale study of 92 elderly people hospitalized for coronary ailments, showed that within a year 11 of the 29 patients without pets passed away, compared to only three of the 52 who owned a pet.

Dogs are increasingly present in waiting rooms - a practice that a study from the University of Pittsburgh confirmed reduced annoyance and irritation in medical patients. Their number showed a wandering pooch reduces pain (23 percent) and emotional distress (32 percent) among patients.

Again 2009

I am not sure that we completely know how these amazing animals are able to know what emergency is going to happen but more and more we are exploring what the possibilities may be. The US Army are spending $300,000 studying how psychiatric service dogs might be paired with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to help them cope with post traumatic stress disorder. The dogs become skilled at spotting signs of stress, nervousness, or angst, responding by licking, cuddling, or demanding to be petted. The dogs refocus attention to themselves, coaxing veterans out of their consuming anxiety and making them aware of the temporary fixation. There is more than enough evidence to know that our pets have skills far beyond just being an animal in the backyard eating scraps.

The partnerships created between people and companion dogs is life changing allowing people with disabilities to go with a new confidence that opens doors to fresh opportunities including friendships, hobbies, education and careers.

A recent studies of men with Aids reported that the patients who did not own a pet were about three times more likely to report symptoms of depression than men who did not have Aids. However men with Aids who did have pets were only about 50% more likely to report symptoms of depression as compared to men who did not have Aids.

Another study of hypertensive New York stockbrokers who got pets were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn't have pets. When the results were announced most of the study group without pets went out and purchase one.

My last photo of Toto January 2011 

Many people underestimate the difficulties that people with hearing problems go through. We take for granted our natural abilities to hear and respond to the sounds around us, from phones and door knocks, to alarms and sirens. Hearing dogs help people to become aware of these sounds by being their ears for them.

Hearing dogs can alert to door knocking, identify a phone ringing help to identify the presence of intruders in the household alert people to the sound of a siren or alarm. For someone who is only mildly hard of hearing, the dog may bark at certain sounds and then lead the person to them. This function is often done naturally by a dog when it realises its owner's hearing is failing. A person with a hearing dog develops a greater sense of autonomy through having the dog as a helper rather than having to rely on another person. The security of knowing that they will not miss someone at the door, or even the fire alarm, can increase the owner's peace of mind. In the event of a fire or natural disaster, a hearing dog can be a life-saver.

Studies have also established that people who own pets live longer.

It is important to realise that owning a pet is not for everyone. Pets do create more work which can be stressful, however for most people the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

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