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Live Healthier with a Dog

My mother-in-law is 96, and she lives alone. We are within walking distance of her apartment and drop in on her a couple of times a day. Twelve years ago, our son gave his grandmother a Manx cat he picked up at the local shelter, saying, “As long as this cat is alive, Grandma will have a reason to get up in the morning.” I think that’s pretty succinctly said.

I have known for a long time that pet ownership increases life expectancy. From the very first time I set foot in a show hall, I have been impressed by the number of older exhibitors who participate in our sport, many with far more energy & enthusiasm than their younger competitors. Now there are studies that prove that owning a dog also makes you healthier.

One German study found that dog owners make 16 percent fewer annual doctor visits and spend 21 percent fewer days in the hospital than non-owners. There is even evidence that dogs can sniff out and detect the early onset of cancer. The State University of New York in Buffalo discovered that owning a dog can be more effective at lowering your blood pressure than the ACE inhibitors many take. The main findings of a Miami of University study were that pet owners in general have a greater sense of well-being. Dog owners, in particular were less depressed, less lonely, had higher self-esteem, were happier and tended to have less stress.

I have not been without a dog during my adult life. Six years ago, when I returned home after by-pass surgery, my family presented me with a new Scottie puppy. Bernie (Brenbill’s Money to Burn) is no show dog, but he got me off the sofa and made me smile every day. During the past six years, I’ve had arguments with my wife, disagreements with my friends, reproaches from my children & criticisms from my mother, and nothing but gratitude and encouragement from Bernie.

I may not live as long as my mother-in-law, but I will enjoy every minute that I have a dog in my home. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.