If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to own a dog, you will know what I am talking about when I bring up the bond we feel with our pet. But did you know, that the old saying that dogs are “man’s best friend” is not far from the truth? Dogs have been companions to humans for tens of thousands of years. That’s a very long time so it shouldn’t be surprising that the relationship between dogs and humans is strong enough to fall into the “Bestie” category.
As it turns out, evolution has played a role in the development of the relationship between dogs and humans. According to Dr. Clive Wynne, a Professor of Psychology, and the Founding Director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, those puppy dog eyes that we cannot resist, are the result of the facial muscles of dogs evolving over thousands of years, causing their eyes to appear larger and their faces to look more expressive. He explains this in his book, “Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You,” published in 2020.
So, there you have it – it’s proven by science. But even if we don’t drag science into the story, I can think of so many reasons why dogs have elevated themselves to the lofty position of our best friend. How many of these can you relate to?
First, of all, let’s consider loyalty. A dog’s loyalty and unconditional love is one of its greatest strengths. There is no feeling in the world like looking at my dogs, Whiskey and Coco, with affection and getting an adoring stare right back from them. Science (last science reference, I promise!) has shown that it can increase our levels of the hormone oxytocin, which is the feel-good hormone. Dogs have also evolved to respond to our emotions, so just like when we fall in love with a human, our dogs can also invoke quite a special feeling of emotional connection with us.
There is no question that our dogs make us feel good, which is great for our health! Owning a dog can provide interesting health benefits, such as helping to lower your cholesterol, relieving stress, and just all around improving the quality of our day just by wagging their tail! Dogs are amazing creatures and for many of us, they can change our lives for the better.
Back to reasons why dogs fit into the top of our friends list. Dogs are there for you, to listen, to sit with you, and to be the stable rock that we all need around us. Dogs aren’t shy about letting you know how much they love you, and who doesn’t need that? Dogs can inspire us to be better every day. Knowing there’s a loving heart waiting at home can get me through my toughest of days outside of the home.
Rounding out my list of reasons why dogs truly are our best friends are the following facts:
- Dogs don’t “get mad” or “get even”. Dogs aren’t even capable of holding a grudge if you come home late. They will be there for you, offering you nothing but unconditional love and acceptance.
- They are loyal. I mentioned this above, but it’s true. They will protect you, protect the home they share with you and make sure that even the Fed Ex truck knows its place.
- Dogs can tell when you’re sad, when you’re lonely or even when it’s dinner time. I’ve even read that dogs can tell the time of day from their keen sense of smell. They know what the air smells like at breakfast time, at mail time, and also at the end of the day when it’s time for you to come home. Dogs are great at detecting when there’s a change in the way you speak to them or in the way you act around them. I recall many days back in high school, coming home and just pouring my heart out to our family dog, Reggie, who was always all too ready to listen and offer me his form of doggie-empathy.
- Dogs are fun! Of course they are!! Dogs can brighten your day just be being there. I get a kick out of watching Whiskey and Coco looking at their toy box and figuring out which toy to play with. Dogs are way smarter than a lot of people give them credit for, but I know firsthand that if dogs could talk they would tell us the answers to so many of our problems. Anyone who doubts doggie intelligence has never witnessed my Coco figure out how to get the loaf of bread off my kitchen counter or get inside my trash can and leave no trace that she was ever around. Recently, we came home and found the baggie that used to hold some Christmas cookies lying on the floor. Not one cookie was in sight. She must have been in sugar shock after that because that was the only time she’s ever left behind a clue.
- When you have a dog, you can forget about ever being lonely again. Your companion will be with you at every meal you eat at home and will be almost like your little shadow. If you decide to get on an exercise kick, your dog will willingly join you. If you decide to slow down and walk instead of run, your secret will be safe with your dog, and guess what – he’ll never make you feel bad about your decision.
Are you thinking about getting a dog? Even if you’re not, after reading this, you might be, and if you are you certainly won’t need any further convincing. And here’s something else to consider. If you’re seriously considering bringing a new four-legged family member into your home, why not visit a rescue center and find one that is so deserving of a loving home. I can practically guarantee your heart will be captured by your new pet. If you already are fortunate enough to already have a dog or two (or more), celebrate your blessing by calling them over and giving them an extra couple of scratches, for no reason. They’ll be grateful and you’ll get a rush of that feel-good hormone. Everybody wins when you love your pet.
Diana Colbert lives near Pittsburgh PA Married with twins (son and daughter) who are 21 years old and still love to travel with their parents. She and her family have owned dogs and/or cats for most of their lives. She works in financial services and would love to live in Mexico someday.