Dogs are man’s best friend. Any owner knows this to be true but scientific studies have also proven this. In one study, people climbed into a box and cried out in distress. All of the dogs acted upset but only one-third managed to open the box to “save” their humans. In a follow-up experiment, the researchers trained the canines to open the box by putting food in it. Then the owners climbed into the box and cried out for help. Then all of the dogs came to their rescue. Dogs become more than a pet; they become part of the family with strong emotional bonds to their owners. 
“They are sleeping in your heart”
Because of their strong bond, it’s hard to recover when a dog passes away. There’s a unique kind of grief, one that never goes away. When Ernest Montague lost his black and white pit bull Bolo, he wrote a beautiful tribute for his pet. In it he said that dogs don’t die. “There’s no such thing, really. They are sleeping in your heart, and they will wake up, usually when you’re not expecting it. It’s just who they are.” Instead, dogs remain with their owner, keeping their heart safe, even when they are sad. Especially when they’re sad.
It’s no wonder that research has found that people are more empathetic to dogs than to other people. In a study, participants were given fake reports to read, the same story but one happened to an adult, one to a baby human, one to an older canine, and one to a puppy. Researchers found that the empathy levels for the puppy, dog, and baby were on similar levels, with the adult human in last place. However, the older canine only received lower scores when compared to the baby. “Subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as ‘fur babies,’ or family members alongside human children,” the researchers concluded. 
The Dog and Human Relationship
Dogs and people can understand each other better than other species. For instance, you may not tell when a bird is happy or sad, but you’ll know immediately how a canine is feeling. They can communicate emotions, threats, and invitations to play. Often, we aren’t taught how to read this language; it’s just something we learn by being around dogs. And communication is key for any relationship. And unlike other symbiotic relationships, dog and human bonds aren’t based on a mutual transaction; they’re based on mutual adoration. Yes, there’s a give and take, but they’re also family now. 
Some of the benefits of these bonds involve the owner’s health, including reducing the risk of heart disease, alleviating symptoms of depression and dementia, and staving off loneliness. However, simply owning a dog is no magical cure. Rather, the actions of taking care of one can improve one’s health and overall quality of life. For instance, daily walks benefit humans as much as their pets, and petting their fur can help reduce stress. Often, the more work owners put into the health of their pups, the healthier they become alongside them.
For instance, interacting with a dog can provide more opportunities to be mindful, which has been proven to reduce stress and enhance one’s health. And on the flip side, research on shelter animals found that dogs who interacted with people soon after their arrival had lower stress levels. Like humans, canines are healthier with regular interaction and exercise. It’s not always easy to take care of a “fur baby”. In fact, it’s a very long and intensive commitment. But with the proper time and effort put in, it can become one of the most loving and beneficial relationships in a person’s life. 
Read: Woman At The Beach Meets A Dog Who Won’t Stop Staring Out To Sea
“Somebody who’s happy to see you”
According to Clive Wynne, a psychologist, and founder of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, canines are remarkable for how they can form affectionate relationships with other species, namely humans. Plus, they seem to thrive in environments of love in a way that is unique to them. And when a dog gives their love, their owners are responsible for taking care of them in return.
“Dogs gave up their free-ranging, roaming, hunting lives in order to hitch their wagon to ours, and I think that implies duties toward them,” he said. “You know your dog needs feeding. Most recognize that dogs need exercise. The thing that upsets me is that people don’t give enough thought to the fact that a large part of what makes it so wonderful to live with a dog is your dog’s social nature. You come home and there’s at least somebody who’s happy to see you.”
Therefore, he encourages people to give canines the love and attention they deserve. “So I think the cruelest thing that we routinely do to our dogs is leaving them home for eight, 10, 12 hours a day. If your life is such that your dog is going to have to be left alone for more than four hours routinely, then you should reconsider whether you have a life that a dog can comfortably fit into.”
- “What makes dogs so special and successful? Love.” Washington Post. Karin Brulliard. September 25, 2019
- “Are People More Disturbed by Dog or Human Suffering?” Brill. Jack Levin. April 18, 2017
- “Why Dogs and Humans Love Each Other More Than Anyone Else.” Time. Jeffrey Kluger. July 20, 2018
- “Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship.” Harvard Health Publishing.