Harvard, Heaven and Dogs

My dog Susie says…

Life’s little stresses

Last week I barked about taking your dog to work and its benefits. Well, how about other places that pets help humans: like school? In colleges from Atlanta to San Francisco counseling centers are using dogs to reduce stress for their students. Dorm rooms are now allowing dogs and cats to be brought from home to live with their owners. And if you don’t have a pet, well you can just rent one.

Harvard and Yale Universities have “resident therapy centers” that keep dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed just like a book. In fact the doggie programs are so successful that students come from miles away just to spend time with the rental pooches! Emory University in Atlanta trains these companion dogs to specifically reduce stress for the humans. Maybe I can get a PhD in stress relief!

Research at campuses across America shows that positive interactions with pets decrease the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in humans, while increasing endorphins which makes you feel happy. Hey, maybe I can get an MD degree too!

Taking final exams is about as high a stress level as students experience except when a friend is hurt or dies unexpectedly, like in a car accident. Dogs seem to allow people to “let go” of their emotions in a much more uninhibited way than just grieving with other humans. Numerous students have stated, “These pet stress programs are so great, that if the the school doesn’t keep doing them, I won’t come back next year!”

Here’s a little story I heard recently about stress and dogs….

A man named Sam and his dog Oscar were walking on a long and winding road. The traveler was enjoying the pleasant walk, when it suddenly occurred to him that he had recently died from all the unbelievable stress at work. He was a cop. He now remembered passing away and also, that his beloved dog had died years before him.

After a while, they came to a mountain top with a tall white stone marble wall across from the road. Standing before it, Sam saw a magnificent gate that looked like mother of pearl and a glittering street that looked like pure gold. He and Oscar walked toward the gate and as they got closer they saw a man standing at a desk.

When they were close enough, Sam inquired, “Excuse me, where are we?”

“Why, this is Heaven, sir”, the man answered.

“Wow! After my stressful life this is great!  Would you happen to have some water? I’m really thirsty.” Sam asked.

“Of course, sir. Come right in and sit down. I’ll have some cold ice water brought right up.” The man gestured and soon the gate began to open.

“Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” Sam asked.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we never accept pets. You’ll have to leave him outside.”

The traveler thought for a moment, then turned back toward the road and continued along the same way they had been walking before. After another long walk, he and Oscar came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a white haired man inside, leaning against a tall tree and reading a book.

“Excuse me!”, Sam called to the reader. “Do you have any water?”

“Yeah, sure enough, there’s a water pump over there. Come on in.”

“How about my friend here?” The traveler gestured to the dog.

“Sure. There’s a bowl right by the pump.”

They went through the gate and saw an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl, took a long drink himself and then quickly gave some to Oscar. When they were both full, Sam and his dog walked back toward the man standing by the magnificent tree waiting for them.

“What do you call this place?” The traveler asked.

” Why…This is Heaven,” was the answer.

“Well, that’s mighty confusing,” Sam said. “The man up the road said that was Heaven, too.”

“Oh, you mean the place with the gold streets and pearly gates? Nope. That’s Hell.”

“Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?”

“Nope. I can see how you might think so, but we’re just thrilled  they screen out all the folks who would leave their very best friends behind!”

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

Information on Sandy Steele:  http://sandysteele.com

HAPPY 4th of JULY EVERYONE!

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When you want a new pet, do you buy or rent?

My dog Susie says

To reduce stress: rent a pet?

I’ve been hearing a lot about how owning a pet can reduce life’s daily stress levels. I saw a university study recently that said if you take your dog to work, it will lower your stress level by at least 11%. I don’t know how exactly they measure it, but it makes sense to me. How many co-workers show uninhibited love and respect for you at your job? How many listen to your every word and follow most of your commands? How many dogs have asked you for a loan or to “go get their coffee”? I rest my case.

Now for those people who aren’t sure about adding a pet to your lifestyle, there is another option to consider. When you buy a car you can either “own” or “lease” it. Well, now you can lease a pet. I kid you not. These Rent-A-Pet services are available throughout the nation via new companies that target dog and cat lovers. My advice is don’t rent one of each at the same time or your stress level will go up!

Because of the lousy economy many owners have had to give up their pets because they can’t afford them. Sad. The benefits of these rental programs are that the dogs, which mostly come from animal shelters, get a chance to spend time running and walking outside in parks or the countryside. To keep these rented dogs from becoming lost, they are outfitted with a GPS location device from the Rent-A-Pet companies. Great idea even for permanent pets… so owners, you should look into this as well. One important point: The fees for renting the cats and dogs are zero. Free!

A couple of months ago I first “barked” about the military dogs who have served overseas and how much they meant to the troops they served with. These extraordinary dogs’ primary job is bomb sniffing. Talk about stress! Anyway, I mentioned a particular German Shepherd named Sergeant Rex who served three combat tours in Iraq. His Marine handler was a lady soldier named Megan Leavey. Wow, I didn’t realize there are women Marines fighting for all of us over there. Good for us girls!

Corporal Leavey was injured when a bomb went off hurting her and Rex. She was eventually returned to the U.S. after recuperating , but Rex was left in Iraq to continue his dangerous job. That was over six years ago. Megan tried for years to adopt Rex but to no avail. She went on TV and other media, but nothing happened until New York Senator Charles Schumer started a petition to allow Rex and Megan to rejoin each other. After 22,000 people signed the petition, the Marines relented and allowed Sergeant Rex and Corporal Megan Leavey to reunite for good at home in America. One veteran Marine said about Rex, “He’s a combat-wounded marine and the person who’ll understand him the best is another combat-wounded marine.”

So stress is everywhere and it makes sense to try and reduce it by adopting, nurturing and loving animals like dogs and cats. It seems to be mutually beneficial for humans and animals. Who could ask for more?

Catch you later,

Susie and Sandy

P.S. Dogs and cats may be better than many children. They don’t ask for money, eat less, much easier to raise, don’t drive, come home when called, don’t do drugs, don’t drink, don’t wear your clothes, don’t go to expensive colleges, and if they get pregnant, and if you chose…. you can always give the results to your friends.

For more “Susie says” barks go to: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For additional information on Sandy Steele : http://sandysteele.com