by Taylor Luckenbach
So it begins. The leaves are falling in California— vibrant oranges and yellows are slowly melting into deep, crispy browns. The air bites a little harder and the heater must be cranked up a few notches. Winter hats and woolen scarves are dusted off and dragged from dusty closet corners. The old clock hanging above grandma's kitchen table has been turned back leaving the days noticeably shorter. Suddenly, Thanksgiving dinner with the crazy extended family lurks just around the corner—unable to be ignored.
For some, this is a time of excitement. It is a time for family, connection, snickerdoodles, eggnog, twinkle-lights, mashed potatoes covered in gravy, and of course holiday movies. For others, Lisse’s song, “Wake Me Up when Christmas Is Over” echoes loudly.
The holiday season can be an emotional one— often reminding us of loved ones who are no longer with us. Weather changes, moods swing like ornaments hanging from our trees, and the horrors of last year’s Black Friday shopping experience is suddenly remembered. Whether you love the holidays or whether you love to hate them, here are a few reasons why turning to your pup might just help you get through the blues.
We all know that pets offer one incredible and unique thing: unconditional love. No matter how many times we deny them a walk or push away their sloppy kisses, they will ALWAYS come back again. They will still be sitting by the bed patiently waiting for a pet, a scratch, or a hold, even after they chewed up dad’s favorite pillow.
This UNCONDITIONAL LOVE according to Dr. Kurt Smith can lead to:
—A DECREASE IN DEPRESSION
In a plethora of studies, it has been revealed that spending just fifteen to thirty minutes with your pet companion can result in a change in your brain chemistry that often results in an overall boosted mood and calming feeling. Similarly, hugging or petting your pooch has been shown to decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
—A HEALTHY HEART
Not only are dogs good for boosting moods, but they have also been shown to protect individuals from heart disease. Due to the physical activity that is required in order to properly care for dogs, it has been shown that there is a strong correlation between lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure among pet owners.
—A DECREASE IN STRESS
As mentioned above, dogs have the ability to change an individual's brain chemistry and produce feelings associated with tranquility and calmness. In doing so, lower levels of stress and anxiety have been recorded in those who own dogs.
—AN INCREASE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
This one may seem obvious, but some people overlook just how beneficial pets can be to overall physical health. We all know the benefits of exercise, and of course, pets need proper physical activity on a daily basis. Unless your dog knows how to walk itself (some do) then you better get up off the couch and walk off last week’s pumpkin pie!
So whether you have already brought down the Snickerdoodle cookie and Yorkshire pudding recipes from the attic or you are dragging your feet into this winter season, give your pup some extra holiday love. They deserve it—and it's good for you too.
Taylor Luckenbach is a senior at UC Santa Cruz. She is a social media master, blogger, and journalist for Adventure Sports Magazine. She loves the great outdoors, hiking, climbing, yoga, and of course her three pups who are always waiting for her at home.
Smith, D. (2017). WELLNESS 6 Reasons Why Owning A Dog Is Good For Your Health. [online]huffpost.com. Available at:https://www.huffpost.com/entry/6-reasons-why-owning-a-dog-is-good-for-your-health_b_5907bc45e4b084f59b49fc00 [Accessed 5 Nov. 2019].