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Dogs are America’s Unsung Heroes Amid COVID-19

As #WFH becomes the new normal for many of us (including the world’s largest broadcasters) there’s an element of our lives that’s increasingly clear. We love dogs. More specifically we love our own dogs. A pet meme that’s making the rounds states simply: “Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong.” 

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), more than 67 percent of U.S. households (that’s 85 million families out of America’s 128.5 million households have at least one pet in their homes. Dogs are the leaders in the pet popularity parade, accounting for 63.4 percent of our domestic animal friends. Pets are a budget priority, too. All in, we spend close to $100 billion on our pets every year. 

Never have we loved and appreciated our animals more than during COVID as they bring many benefits to the humans they bless, especially as we spend more time than ever before in our homes. 

Here are just a few of our highest pet benefits:

Our dogs are ever loyal and faithful as friends. 

From the days of childhood through the end of our lives our dogs are the faithful listeners who always love and accept us without agenda or guile (beyond coaxing us for additional treats, affection and play). When the world around us is frightening, we can always count on the comfort of our favorite dogs. In that sense, every dog, formally or informally, is a kind of a “service animal” that provides us with comfort and care. For example, a recent Today Show segment acknowledged a Great Dane therapy dog named Tonka who is making the rounds with his owner to  long term care facilities to give comfort to the residents who are currently not able to receive human guests. 

They keep us on schedule. 

In the throes of our #WFH schedules we may forget to stand up and walk or even forget to eat. But our dogs will never fail to remind us when it is time for an outside break, a drink of water, and a bit of air. Staying on a routine is good for our health and anxiety, according to research. Our dogs can help us to accomplish this well. 

They get us outside for sunlight, exercise and fresh air. 

A few minutes time in the outdoors is therapeutic. If we walk in bare feet it even gives us the “grounding” benefits that connect us with the electrical charge of the earth. Our dogs seem to know this inherently as they press us for the outdoor walks and bathroom breaks they require and the time out moments they and we so richly deserve. 

They decrease our anxiety and improve our mental and physical health. 

Studies have shown that having pets in our homes improves our health in measurable ways. Our blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels decrease in the presence of our dogs. Our sense of loneliness and isolation decreases. Our socialization increases. Having a dog is a great way to get acquainted with your community and neighbors (from a safe distance, of course). If you’re in the dating market, a dog is the ideal conversation starter, as people are fairly well universally drawn to a dog. 

They entertain us (and they entertain and exercise our children).  

As more than one dog enthusiast show is sure to tell us, dogs are both majestic and comedic, in varying parts. Few things are as fun as watching the silliness of a dog so enthusiastic to reach its toy or its owner that legs scramble and hilarity ensues. Dogs are the perfect antidote to screen time for homebound children, and games of catch and keep away provide needed exercise, too. 

We owe so much to our dogs, and in all of their sizes and varieties, the investment of time and resource we make in their well-being is invariably returned many times. 

It’s all about sharing the love

To reward our dogs, a long-established pet product company KONG (makers of the snowman-shaped toy) has launched a #KONGBoxCares campaign to allow subscribers to share the way their dogs are providing support during COVID and to make ours favorite dog Instagram famous. Here’s my favorite idea so far for keeping your pooch quiet and happy during your next appointment on Zoom. On a GMA segment this week, a celebrity trainer suggested host Lara Spencer fill one of the snowman-shaped KONGs with kibble and peanut butter to keep her rescue dog, Riva, entertained and out of view while she broadcasts from home.

However we reward our pets, they are worth our time and affection as they provide us with moral support, a set of listening ears and steady entertainment and joy. There is no better time than now to redouble our appreciation for our fur-covered heroes, family members and friends.