One thing nearly everyone can agree on is that 2020 has been a year of trials and challenges. With all the uncertainty and worrying both mental and physical health have been at risk. This past week I had the pleasure of talking with my best friend, Madi Hahn, about what a difference having her dog has been for her. Ellie is the sweetest little two year old Aussie Shepherd mix. She was rescued from the Sanctuary at Haafsville where Madi and her family spent a lot of time volunteering. Madi had discussed how throughout the pandemic, and especially in the midst of the huge lockdown, that Ellie was really what kept her moving through the days. Madi mentioned how dogs help us in ways we don’t even realize saying, “She (Ellie) gave me a reason to get out of bed everyday even if it was just to get up and feed her”. Through their basic needs, dogs give us a structure to our days.
While talking with Madi I noticed a very common theme in how she has been coping with the pandemic. Mental health has been especially challenging yet even more important with everything going on. One thing this pandemic has made very clear is what a difference dogs make in our lives. Not only do dogs help us to be more physically active by taking them out on walks, they also do wonders for our psychological health. Oxytocin is one of the main hormones that is often linked with dog interaction, “When you interact with a dog your brain sends oxytocin from your hypothalamus out to the rest of your body, triggering loving feelings” (Wylde, 2020). The chemicals that are released in our brains when we are with dogs are what cause us to feel such joy and it’s this joy that so many people longed for in such a stressful time. Just being in the presence of a dog causes our body to release hormones, such as Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Dopamine, that make us feel happier and calmer. Dogs bring a special light to our lives just by being themselves. During a time where so much is changing it is comforting to have a reliable furry friend who will still be there to bring us smiles.
Wylde, K. (2020, September 18). How Getting A Dog Changes Your Brain, According To Neuropsychologists. Bustle; Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/wellness/how-getting-dog-changes-brain-neuropsychologists