Man’s best friend trained to save lives

Jennifer McGregor has written for Choices two other times, presenting  compelling information about  addiction and suicide . Today she writes about man’s best friend and how service dogs can be a great asset to veterans in need.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your wise words as always. Welcome back!

Earning the Title of “Man’s Best Friend”: Service Dogs for Veterans

by Jennifer McGregor

Photo via Pixabay by skeeze

For years, dogs have been designated as “Man’s Best Friend,” but have you ever paused to consider the reason? Besides the outward affection and the inner, fuzzy feeling you get when you own one of these four-legged creatures, there are tons of benefits, like positive changes in your mental and physical health, ability to socialize and interact in the community, and regulated emotional levels. If you’re a veteran, owning a service dog might be the remedy to many of your post-war issues and symptoms. Here’s why:

Dogs Are The Cheese To Your Macaroni

Service dogs are trained to be your perfect counterpart. When you suffer from symptoms like increased stress, flashbacks and recurring nightmares, depression, and disorientation, your dog is trained to combat those hindering problems. Some specific tasks service dogs perform are:

  • Laying on you as a method to give you a sense of security. Using their body weight in circumstances to evaporate your anxiety and panic is known as Deep Pressure Stimulation.
  • Staying alert and scanning the places you can’t see as you venture out in public. You won’t have to look over your shoulder the next time you get out of your car to drop off your dry-cleaning.
  • Opening and closing doors and turning on lights upon you entering your home or waking from a bad dream.
  • Picking up items that you have dropped, and fetching your medication, a list of telephone numbers in the event of an emergency, or even a drink.
  • Alerting you when it’s time to take medication or implement the weight routine.

Dogs Make You Feel Better

Having a service dog is a great replacement for human companionship. Even a short stint of playtime increases your dopamine and serotonin levels, which contributes to your feelings of pleasure and serenity. Here are some other ways a dog can make you healthier:

  • Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and in turn decrease your chance of a heart attack
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Distract you from your worries
  • Make you feel needed and significant when they rely on you for their survival
  • Help you establish a routine
  • Provide physical contact, which improves your physical and emotional health
  • Offer comfort when coping with change and help heal your depression

Dogs Help You Re-Adjust

Owning a dog can teach you responsibility, patience, and other traits that provide life lessons and make you better as a person. As veterans, sometimes you need reminders that getting back into a regular lifestyle is possible. Having a dog can also help you:

  • Return to work or school
  • Attract other people to you. Face it, dogs are conversation starters, and a lot of people will approach you just to pet your dog, queuing more social interaction and a smaller tendency to isolate yourself
  • More capable of caring and providing for your family

The mentioned benefits of attaining a service dog merely skim the surface. For more information on requirements and how to apply, check out these sites:

Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.

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