Known as mans best friend, the dog has a relationship with humans that dates back tens of thousands of years. Today, research has shown us that that bond is more than a pretty picture; science has proved that being around one another is beneficial to humans and dogs.

Your brain on dog

In 2000, the Life Sciences Research Institute in South Africa published a study that measured the effects of animal-assisted therapy. Research showed that dogs are incredibly good “therapists.” Studies on the human-animal bond, particularly between humans and dogs, conducted in the intervening years have shown important connections between the species.

Results of a study titled “Animal Assisted Therapy – Magic or Medicine?” published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research show how various chemicals in the brain are affected by human-dog interactions:

Its believed that owning a dog can relieve stress and help detect, treat and manage a variety of illnesses and debilitating issues. Dogs have been trained to sniff out cancer and signal a warning when a person is about to have a seizure.

Service dogs benefit people with everything from diabetes, traumatic brain injury and rheumatoid arthritis to autism. They can help improve mobility and promote independence. They assist people with post traumatic stress disorder. Several groups work to provide dogs to veterans to help them cope.

Alzheimers patients can be soothed by dogs, whose companionship can mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggression related to the disease.

Dog talk

Dogs have been shown to pay attention when humans talk – they respond not just to our body language and the tone of our voice, but, according to a study by Hungarian scientists, also to the words we speak.

Tell-tail signs[hhmc]

If a dogs tail is tucked under its body, its probably scared. If the tail is stiff and pointing straight up, the dog may be aggressive. A 2013 study published in the journal Current Biology said dogs interpret tail wags to the left and right differently: Dogs were more stressed by another dogs tail that wagged to the left, while they relaxed when it wagged to the right.

Where we get our dogs

According to the ASPCA, the largest contributor to dogs winding up in shelters is overbreeding. One female dog can produce two litters of six to 10 pups per year.

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In six years that female and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs.

Age-old question

One Sirius dog

Ever thought the dog days of summer are called that because its hot and dogs are lying about, tired, in the heat?

The dog days of summer are named for the constellation Canis Major (Latin for “greater dog”), which has the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Ancient Greeks referred to Sirius as the Dog Star. It begins to rise before the sun in July.

Fido facts

Popular pooches[hhmc]

From 2013 to 2017, the American Kennel Club rankings for most popular breeds have been:

  1. Labrador retriever
  2. German shepherd
  3. Golden retriever

Presidents with dogs[hhmc]

31 of 45 presidents have had a dog or dogs at the White House.

Teddy Roosevelts dog Skip was brought home from a Colorado bear hunt. He was a black and tan mixed breed, but in 1999 the United Kennel Club recognized the breed as the Teddy Roosevelt terrier.

Dog downers[hhmc]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that dogs account for 76,000 falls resulting in emergency room visits each year.

The bacteria Capnocytophaga, which lives in the mouths of dogs (and cats), was in the news recently when a Wisconsin woman contracted the disease after a dog licked an open wound and she died. This occurrence is rare, according to the CDC.

Dogs of defense[hhmc]

A Belgian Malinois ready for a parachute jump

Bullet-proof vests, night-vision goggles and cameras with infrared lenses are just a few of the features of a modern fighting dogs “uniform.”

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