Dogs lead to an increase in happiness and health


By Shireen Korkzan
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For 18 years I have been deprived of a childhood. I blame all of my problems in life on not having a dog. I was always jealous of my cousins and friends who had one. Beseeching did nothing; my parents always said no because having one would ruin the furniture and rugs. I don’t think I’ve ever truly been happy, until recently when I finally persuaded my parents to let me get a cat. It’s not exactly a dog, but it was a start.

I immediately decided I would get some sort of Persian cat, including its off-breeds such as Himalayans (Mr. Jinx from “Meet the Parents”, Sassy from “Homeward Bound”). No, this had nothing to do with heritage; I just prefer fluffy cats. I went with my mom to the Clinton County Humane Society in Frankfort on Apr. 13 to adopt the closest Persian cat to my house that was up for adoption. It wasn’t until we were there when we found out the cat wasn’t declawed, and my parents didn’t want to pay for any surgery. We decided to browse through what animals were up for adoption since we felt we might as well make the most of our 40-minute drive.

And that’s when I met the perfect dog for me, a Basset hound who had just turned a year old. He was up to date on all his shots, completely housetrained and had just been neutered an hour before our visit. There was no way I would leave the building until I persuaded both of my parents to let me keep him. I think persuading my parents into letting me adopt a dog is my personal greatest accomplishment. We picked him up the next day after all the paperwork was complete. Of course, it was only appropriate for me to name my Basset hound Ears.

It didn’t take long for my parents to fall in love with Ears the same way I did at first sight. He immediately fit right in, as if he was the corner piece of a family portrait puzzle. What we didn’t expect was how much healthier we would feel within a week of him being home. My stress has significantly lowered and I have never felt so happy in a long time. My mother said her cholesterol and blood pressure have significantly dropped. My younger sister is never home enough to see our dog, but even my dad said walking around the neighborhood with Ears every night has made exercising more enjoyable.

My family is not crazy when we make these claims, either. According to a 2007 Queens University study, dog owners tend to have lower stress, blood pressure and cholesterol mainly because of the regular exercising required for keeping dogs healthy. Also, owners are happier and therefore want to exercise more because they enjoy spending time with their dogs. All of this evidence fits perfectly with my family, and now health is trumping a pristine home.

As a renewed optimist, I vouch for everyone to get a dog if possible for health reasons if not happiness and pleasure. I have yet to regret it.