Dogs and Humans – A Closer Look
Men and dogs have partnered well together for thousands of years. They protect us with their keen senses. They comfort us with their exceptional empathy. Our pet dogs seem to understand us better than any other person can.
That’s no accident either. Dogs have been selectively bred to be our ideal companions. Many of the things we love about dogs are the result of selective breeding. According to the World Canine Organization, there are 349 canine breeds that are separated into 10 different breed groups.
Pointer dogs were first bred in England to help “point” out wild game during hunts. Puppies exhibit this behavior at around 2 months old. Sheep dogs are one of the earliest K9 breeds and they have an instinctual ability to guard and corral herd animals. Retrievers are a popular breed and many of their desirable traits come from their history as hunting dogs, as well.
Dogs are still performing vital roles alongside their human masters. Just look at Conan, the military service dog that was instrumental in taking down Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS in October of 2019. Conan is a Belgian Malinois. That’s the same breed of dog that worked with Special Forces to take out Bin Laden.
Over the years, mankind has developed a unique bond with dogs. That bond is hardwired into their brains. They might not be a critical part of the workforce anymore, but they still play an important social function in human lives.
K9 Qualities That Men Admire
There’s just something about having a dog as a pet that nurtures the spirit of men. Dogs aren’t people, but dogs do have many characteristics that men look for in people. Loyalty, agreeability, pack mentality, zest for life – the list goes on and on.
Dogs are incredibly loyal to their masters. They bond to their owners and stick right by their side for life. You can even be a total jerk at times, but your dog will always return to you with his tail wagging. Dog experts think this might be due to their pack mentality. For pack dogs, loyalty supports survival.
To some extent, that’s true for your pet. You take care of your dog, so loyalty is his way of saying thank you. However, the bond between man and dog goes deeper than pack mentality. Your dog can sense your emotions. He knows when you’re happy and he seems to sense when you need some extra face licking. They’ve developed this empathic ability over thousands of years of evolution.
Dogs don’t talk back either. That’s rather convenient. However, they are excellent communicators. Dogs are quite capable of protesting when they don’t get their way. They can’t argue with you like a person, but they make their intentions known in other ways. Your little one might not be up for a walk, so she takes her leash and hides it under the pillows. That can be annoying, but that’s nothing compared to what your friends do when they don’t agree with you.
Just think about when your human friends don’t want to hang out. You might get a cryptic text message. You might get to see photos of them hanging out with other people on social media. They might embarrass you out in public. But not little Fido. He’s never ghosted you on a text. Well, mostly because he doesn’t have any thumbs.
Another quality that men love about dogs is their agreeability. When you have a K9 pet, your ideas seem really great. Usually, your dog is up for anything that you’ve got planned. Whether it’s a lazy day on the couch eating Cheetos or a spirited outdoor hike in the park, your dog is usually up for whatever.
Dogs Are Good for Your Health
One reason that dogs are man’s best friend is that dogs keep you healthy. Initial data from the Kardiozive Brno 2030 study found that owning a dog can be great for your cardiovascular health. The study looked at the baseline health of people who didn’t own pets, people who owned other types of pets, and people who owned dogs specifically.
Andrea Maugeri, Ph.D., a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne's University Hospital in Brno said that “In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level. The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.”
The results of the study seem to confirm previous statements from the American Heart Association about the health benefits of dog ownership. In a scholarly paper published in October 2019, the AHA reported that heart attack and stroke survivors lived longer if they owned a K9 pet.
The study was quite extensive and relied on 337,000 participants. Heart attack survivors that participated in the study showed a 33% lower risk of early death. Stroke victims with dogs in the home showed a 27% reduced risk of early death.
Tove Fall, D. V. M., professor at Uppsala University in Sweden summarized the study findings. “We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death. Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.”
Resources for Owning a Pet
Dogs make wonderful companions for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses and impairments. Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can find information on partnering with a K9 companion on the Pets for Patriots website.
If you are thinking of getting a dog as a pet, then you should know that it’s a serious commitment. Dogs don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time and depending on the breed, you might need to spend a considerable amount of time training them.
You don’t necessarily have to purchase a new puppy either. Your local animal shelter is bound to have lovable, loyal dogs that just need a good home. Before you buy a puppy, maybe you should consider adoption.
Here’s a touching adoption story:
“She popped right up and was wagging her tail like crazy.” https://t.co/ip9ACdCWGd
— The Dodo (@dodo) November 25, 2019
Summing it Up
There are many different reasons why dogs are man’s best friend. It’s not a magical bond though. It’s the result of thousands of years of selective breeding and shared experience. Dogs have helped pull sleds, find food, guard property, and have performed many other jobs that make them valuable resources.
They also speak to our spirit in ways that no other animal can. If you have a pet dog, that animal will become fine-tuned to your emotional needs. Without saying a word, your pet dog can brighten a bad day and even add years to your lifespan. That’s quite amazing.