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Tag: companions

One in five prefer pet as their Valentine

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So, with only three days left to Valentine’s Day, your honey still hasn’t firmed up the plans?

Could be he, or she, is planning to spend it with the pooch.

Rather than spending Valentine’s Day with their human partner, a fifth of adults would prefer to be with their pet, Reuters reports, based on a global poll conducted in conjunction with the market research company, Ipsos.

The survey of 24,000 people in 23 countries found, globally, 21 percent of adults would rather spend February 14 with their pet than their spouse or partner.

Interestingly, Turkish people were most inclined to want to spend the day with the dog (49 percent), while the French were least likely (10 percent).

The survey found that age and income were even bigger factors than country of residence, with younger, less affluent people more likely to choose their pet as their Valentine’s Day companion. About  25 percent of people aged under 35 opted for their pet over their partner, compared to 18 percent of those aged 35-54 and 14 percent of people aged 55 and over. Men and women were evenly split over the question.

About 1,000 individuals per country took part in the poll, with Turkey showing the largest numbers by far of owners who preferred their pet’s company on Valentine’s Day.  Next came India with 41 percent, Japan with 30 percent, China with 29 percent, the United States with 27 percent and Australia with 25 percent.

The nations where residents were the least likely to want to spend the day with a pet over their spouse or partner were France at 10 percent, Mexico at 11 percent, the Netherlands at 12 percent and Hungary at 12 percent.

Dogs better walking companions than humans

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Dogs are better walking companions than humans on almost all counts, a new study shows, with the possible exception of conversation (though I generally favor them in that category as well).

Research at the University of Missouri has found that people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise, walk at a brisker (therefore more healthy) pace, and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion, according to the New York Times health blog, “Well.”

In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted living home, 35 people were assigned to a 5-day-a-week walking program — 23 walking with a friend or spouse, 12 walking dogs at a local animal shelter.

The dog walkers showed a big improvement in fitness, while the human walkers began making excuses to skip the workout. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just a 4 percent increase among the human walkers.

“The improvement in walking speed means their confidence in their walking ability had increased and their balance had increased. To have a 28 percent improvement in walking speed is mind boggling,” said Rebecca A. Johnson, a nursing professor and director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Johnson said the dog walkers were far more consistent in sticking with the program than those who were walking with humans: “In the human walking group, they were regularly discouraging each other from walking,” she said. “Missouri is a hot state. We would hear them saying: ‘It’s hot today. I don’t want to walk, do you?’ ”

The dog walkers, on the other hand, were nearly always up for the task:

“When the people came to the animal shelter, they bounced off the bus and said, ‘Where’s my dog?”’  Johnson said. “And the dogs never gave any discouragement from walking.”

The study, not yet published,  is continuing, and Johnson said she suspects differences will show up in other areas, like depression and anxiety.

Already, though, Johnson said, many people in the dog-walking group stopped using canes and walkers. “They would say, ‘Now I’m physically fit enough to take my dog for a walk,”’

Giving thanks for the animals

We can think of no better way to mark this Thanksgiving than with this piece, written by Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg, a contributor to USA Today who remembers more than a few dogs waiting for scraps under the dinner table…

“Spaniels, shepherds, setters, poodles, ridgebacks, Labradors and whatnots. All these dogs were strays — lost canines who wandered into our lives and nestled into our hearts. We lived together as a multispecies family, enjoying the seasons, the feasts, the joys together. The dogs were there to soothe our sorrows, too, and to ease the passage of time in the lonely moments of the night.

In an op-ed piece, Oberg gives thanks for her animals and their rescuers.

“This Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for my animal companions in life and for the hundreds of organizations and thousands of people who take notice of such creatures throughout the nation — rescuing them, defending them and finding them homes. It is hard and sometimes unpleasant work, and nobody gets rich doing it. But the ultimate test of our humanity is how we treat animals, and these people redeem our species by saving millions of helpless creatures every year.

Oberg writes of adopting her dog Sierra.

My local SPCA’s efforts brought me my dog, Sierra, 13 years ago. My kids urged me to go there after a beloved pet dog died suddenly. I was crying as we walked past the cages — and in the last one stood Sierra. She was a large spayed female Labrador/shepherd mix, about a year old. She wagged her long magnificent tail confidently as soon as I looked at her, and her brown honest eyes spoke to me as if to say, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

And of losing her.

“My old girlfriend Sierra died in her sleep this summer at a very old age — the human equivalent of 105 — with three generations of my family and my large circle of friends mourning the loss of this true and noble soul. We buried her in the shade of the pecan tree she favored, not far from the large sand pile where the children play with toy soldiers and trucks, and beside the path to the barn we walked together twice a day to feed the horses. She will remain in death as ever she was in life — in the heart of my family.

“I’ll especially miss my sweet old beggar with her soulful smoldering eyes beside my chair this Thanksgiving. But I’ll say a prayer of thanks for having known her, for how lucky I was to have found her that cold day at the SPCA 13 years ago.

“She brought us laughter, protection, devotion — and a kind of love that was distilled to a purity that we’ve rarely found in any other aspect of our life journey.

(Photo: A Viszla named Laila — who just so happens to have her own blog — appears thankful for her owner, and vice versa, during a walk in Baltimore’s Riverside Park; by John Woestendiek)