Twas the Night Before Christmas…
For a bit of a change, instead of talking about abstractions and ideas, I thought we might consider a concrete example of something that I, many of our clients, as well as friends and acquaintances, have found helpful
?Consequently, above, awaiting Santa, are Sophie and Parker, the “rescue dogs” who, more accurately, rescued me and continue to do so.
Really, for most of us, whether we drink or not, there is no better “sober companion” than a dog.
And here’s the research:
- Dog make us laugh – that’s right, dog owners laugh more than cat owners or those who have neither cats nor dogs, and laughter is good for us;
- Dogs are loyal –as the ASPCA researchers have noted, dogs bond to us as fellow pack members and we and they all feel less alone which helps with loneliness and depression, two of the big causes of alcohol abuse;
- Dog owners are more social – nothing like walking the dog, or going to the dog park, to build pleasing social interactions in easy, non-threatening ways. Again, social needs are more easily met and anxiety also declines;
- Dogs keep us healthy –they help promote microbes that help prevent allergies;
Dogs keep us active – with exercise (one writer noted that “a dog is the only exercise machine you can’t easily ignore”) comes decreased depression and anxiety and dogs help us accomplish this;
Dogs save lives – whether as seeing-eye dogs, seizure dogs, or other service dogs, they save and improve our lives in countless ways;
- Dogs provide a sense of purpose – they really are great companions, especially as we age and our tendencies to isolate can take root. Dog owners report feeling happier and more satisfied socially, physically, and emotionally;
- Dogs generate confidence – they help with self-esteem, better exercise habits, and a decreased fear of crime;
- Dogs make us genuinely happy – eye contact with our furry family releases the feel good chemical oxytocin. Additionally, dog owners report less depression, less loneliness, higher self-esteem, were happier and experienced less stress.
Just a quick review – why do most of us abuse alcohol? Usually because we are anxious, lonely, depressed, stressed out, under active, unsocial, and lacking in exercise.
Could it be that a dog might actually replace the bottle as an antidote to virtually all of these self-induced ills while empowering us as well? Imagine that.
But also, please, remember that a dog is a significant responsibility and that a dog will become even more bonded to you than you are to him or her. Make sure you’re prepared for that. You can do so by joining rescue groups, volunteering at shelters, being a foster home provider, and/or hanging out at the dog park.
Rescue dogs – the “rescue” goes both ways…