“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France, 1921 Nobel Laureate

For the fifth year, Subaru’s National#MakeADog’sDay, October 22, once again “shines the spotlight on hard-to-adopt dogs—the older, deaf, blind, and ‘different’ that are lovingly called the ‘Underdogs’—to help them find loving homes…”

Meet Jenny Josel:

  • Older: Somewhere around 12 years old (84 in people years)
  • Deaf: Just about totally
  • Blind: Totally; missing both eyes
  • Different: Heart murmur/heart failure

And a great love for me these past 2-1/2 years…

Thus, Jenny went from “Underdog’” status to being my wonder dog who, despite it all, prances as she walks, her long tail wagging back and forth as she goes. My role model and constant companion.

Writing for the American Kennel Club, Kaitlyn Arford put it this way: “Unconditional love. Devoted companionship. Constant entertainment. Most of us dog lovers know that life is better with a dog. But is that knowledge based on a feeling or is there something else at work?”

Something else, indeed.

As Arford reports, the backed-by-science benefits include:

  1. Lowering blood pressure levels and our heart rates, relieving stress and anxiety–both major heart risk factors.
  2. Slowing breathing while relaxing tense muscles.
  3. Helping us recover psychologically from a crisis, including for those suffering from PTSD.
  4. Getting us moving, walking our dogs about 300 minutes a week, 200 more than non-dog owners.
  5. Making us more approachable and providing the perfect conversation starter. In fact, it’s said that 40% of dog owners have an easier time making friends than others.
  6. Lifting our spirits. In fact, just staring into our dog’s eyes boosts oxytocin levels, aka the “love hormone.
  7. Providing a balm for loneliness.

And about #7 above, Cigna reports that nearly 50% of us Americans feel lonely sometimes or always. Plus:

  • Chronic loneliness can increase the odds of premature death by up to 50%, weakening our immune systems, increasing inflammation and levels of stress hormones, too.
  • 20% of Americans say they have no one to talk to about things that matter to them
  • Social media use is associated with increased feelings of loneliness and despair.

In fact:

  1. According to Cigna, the loneliest among us is Gen Z (18 to 22) ~ 79%
  2. According to a YouGov survey, next come Millennials (23 to 37) ~ 71%
  3. According to AARP, finally we adults 45+ ~ 34%

And that brings me back to irresistible dogs; own one and you’re never alone, never without a friend and confidante. If able, rescue yourself some love by adopting an Underdog.

As author Dean Koontz reminds us: “One of the greatest gifts we receive from dogs is the tenderness they evoke in us… By their delight in being with us, the reliable sunniness of their dispositions, the joy they bring to playtime, the curiosity with which they embrace each new experience, dogs melt cynicism and sweeten the bitter heart.”