About two years ago, I was heading back to San Antonio from Seattle. I didn’t notice it until a small “woof!” came from the seat behind me, but the girl, probably 23 years old, had a small dog on her lap. I turned around to see his little muzzle sticking through the seat. As I laughed, she said “I hope you don’t mind. He’s my therapy dog.” We talked through the seat for a while, and after the plane took off, I sat next to her to learn more.

Her husband was on his third tour in Iraq and she had been alone for 16 months. “I started seeing a therapist and he said this would be the best thing for me,” she said as she nodded towards the small puppy seated neatly on her lap. I had never thought about it until then, but after I got home, I began noticing service dogs everywhere.

 History of Service Dogs

It was once thought that dogs were good for two things: hunting and guarding. It wasn’t until after World War I that formal service dog programs were developed, and dogs began to be trained in assisting the visually impaired. Until recently, dogs had been lumped into the category of “just another domesticated animal” that humans liked having around. But studies that began in the 1990s brought more of their healing powers to light. Dogs are great at reading our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Take the young woman on the plane; her dog would sit there quietly on her lap, bringing her joy and happiness. People knew that dogs had the power to change emotions for quite some time, but had no idea how or why.

 The Hows and Whys

The scientists that performed these studies in the 1990s wanted to know why it was that dogs made us feel the way that they do. Blood was first taken before exposure to an animal. Individuals were allowed to play with dogs, and then their blood was drawn again. After analyzing the blood, doctors noticed that there were increased levels of oxytocin. Called the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin is the same chemical that’s released when mothers breast-feed. It enters into the child’s bloodstream from the mother and creates a feeling of euphoria for both the mother and the child, causing a bond to be built up between the two. Doctors found that this increase of oxytocin, much like in the mother-child relationship, created a loving bond between the dog and its owner. After these studies, dogs began going to nursing homes and hospitals, even to college campuses on finals days to bring joy into people’s lives.

 Soul Satisfaction at Pawderosa Ranch

Your dog may not be a “service” or “therapy” dog per se, but one thing’s for sure – their unconditional love makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world. What’s better than that? If you’re looking for a way to show them just how much you appreciate what they do for you, consider booking a play-date for them at Pawderosa Ranch. Our dedicated staff and friendly pack will make sure they leave with a satisfied soul. Check out our daycare and boarding rates below!

Sources:

http://www.muhlenberg.edu/studorgs/companion/ccfaqhistory.html

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4625213/ns/health-pet_health/t/puppy-love—-its-better-you-think/#.VO-GqLPF-rc

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1036151/Breast-feeding-DOES-help-mothers-bond-babies–releases-love-hormone.html

https://www.therapydogs.com/

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