5 reasons to love dogs

Highlighting the other members of a family
5 reasons to love dogs
Photo by Beth Skogen
Molly, an English bulldog, at Prairie Moraine County Park.

They find a way of nuzzling into our hearts with their wet noses, expressive faces and Muppet-like paws.

Before long, the dogs we take into our homes become part of the family–children in fur, whose antics keep us entertained and whose constant devotion is unmatched by humans.

Many of us at Madison Magazine either own a dog or have had one at some point. This month, we highlight five reasons we love these furry friends.

1. They’re always happy to see us.

No matter what kind of day it’s been, your dog will greet you as if you’ve just returned from a long trip. Never mind if you’re sweaty from having worked out at the health club or you’ve had a rotten day, the family dog is just glad you’re home. It’s time to forget your cares and enjoy the moment with your four-legged companion.

5 reasons to love dogs

2. They protect us.

Their keen senses detect unfamiliar movements and noises, and they’re quick to alert the household if something’s amiss. They guard us with every ounce of their fur-coated flesh, and some instinctively let out a ferocious bark if they sense danger. Even toy dogs act as if they’re ready to go all-Cujo on the neighbor kids if they feel a line is being crossed.

5 reasons to love dogs

3. They melt away stress.

Spending time with your pup can help take the edge off of a hectic day. Petting a dog for only a few minutes releases feel-good hormones in humans, such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin, according to researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Like your bestie, Fido will listen to your deepest secrets, help you relieve your conscience and never repeat a word of it. This makes every dog a therapy dog.

5 reasons to love dogs

4. They help us stay active.

Dogs love routine, and that regimen should include a daily walk. Getting outdoors with your canine is a good way to stay in shape and improve your health. Not only that, a study found that people who said they care greatly about their pets were more likely to be involved in their community and serve in leadership roles. Dogs are also magnets for meeting other pet owners. So if you’re single, your pet could lead you to that special someone. Good dog!

5 reasons to love dogs

5. They love us unconditionally.

From the moment we realize this bond is for keeps, it’s as if these furry creatures have already decided to love us for who we are–no matter what comes. There’s something magical in that depth of devotion. Although dogs can get into mischief and drive their owners nuts sometimes, they show us how to remain loyal and never hold a grudge. They can lift us when we’re down, just like a true friend. It’s no wonder they’re known as man’s best friend. They’re paws-itively amazing.

Learn about the special relationship between dog expert Patricia McConnell with her border collie Will.

Click here to find a place to buy a dog.

For a list of parks that allow dogs, click here.

Karen Lincoln Michel is editor of Madison Magazine.