Live Laugh Dog

Arshia Desarkar

April 8, 2022

Photo Provided by Jenny Garcia (Rubi the Rescue Dog)

If you ever were a kid, you probably remember begging your parents for something you wanted, something you felt you needed to survive. It could have been a phone, or an awesome new video game, or even that really cool doll that sings to you. It could have been to play a sport, join a club, or play an instrument. However for me,  that one thing I longed for, but never got, was a dog.

Dogs are the most common household pet in America, with just under 70 million households in America having dogs as pets, and for good reason. There are about 190 dog breeds in the US, ranging from the minuscule Chihuahua to the massive Great Dane providing a good fit for everyone. In the number one spot for the most popular dog breed is the Labrador Retriever. The reason why Labrador Retrievers are so popular may lie in their personality. Of course dogs, like humans, don’t all have identical natures, but on average a Labrador Retriever is intelligent, kind, energetic, and trusting. These traits may sound so familiar to you because these are the traits that many people look for in a best friend, hence the term for dogs, “man’s best friend.”

Labrador Retrievers aren’t the only intelligent or friendly dogs; many breeds including the Poodle, German Shepherd, and the most intelligent dog breed, the Border Collie, are also best-friend material. However, what makes dogs such exceptional pets is not only their personality but also their astonishing ability to save lives. 

Certain dog breeds, namely the German Shepherd and Bloodhounds, are trained to be search and rescue dogs from a young age. These special dog breeds have a knack for sniffing out a human scent, and avoiding any other potential distractions. They can hyper focu on the task before them without getting sidetracked. Search and rescue dogs are so efficient, they can do the work of 20 to 30 humans. One dog, a Golden Labrador Retriever in the Mexican Navy named Frida, has been credited with saving more than 50 lives, in the aftermath of various natural disasters.

Labrador Retrievers are also the most popular Cardiac Service Dog breed. Cardiac Service Dogs can detect changes in the heart rate or blood pressure of their owners, and warn them if they are in danger of a heart attack, stroke, or other potentially fatal heart conditions. There are approximately 500,000 service dogs in the United States currently hard at work, ranging from seeing-eye dogs which help their blind owners navigate and avoid obstacles, to allergy detecting dogs, who can sniff out foods their owner is allergic to, and warn them about it.

Of course, both search and rescue dogs and service dogs need to be trained for many years to help save lives, but dogs don't always need to be professionally trained to save a life. Any dog can help people suffering from depression or other mental conditions, by simply being there for their owners. Dogs are by nature loyal, loving creatures, and to someone struggling with their mental health, a dog can help reduce their anxiety and stress levels. Scientifically, dogs actually make us happier by increasing the flow of the hormone oxytocin, which slows our heart rate down and promotes the feeling of well-being.

In general, our furry friends are both mentally and physically good for us. A dogs' constant companionship and blind love for their owners is undeniable, and their friendly personality can always brighten up someone’s day. Owning a dog could save your life and make you a happier person, so the real question you should be asking is not “Should I get a dog?” but “Why don’t I have one already?”