The Happiness Connection  

Pet ownership can bring joy enrich your life

The joys of pet ownership

August 26 is national dog day. That’s Friday in case like me you’ve lost track of the date. How can a summer have sped by so quickly? But that’s a topic for another day.

Pet and family lifestyle advocate Colleen Paige wanted to promote providing dogs with safe, happy, abuse-free lives and draw attention to the number of animals in shelters. Because her family had adopted their dog on this date when she was ten, it seemed like the perfect date.

In 2004 the first national dog day was celebrated in the United States. Since then, it has grown into a global day of canine recognition. Humans have a long history of coexisting with dogs.

We’ve been doing it for at least 14,000 years.

Anyone who currently owns a pet or has owned one in the past, knows the joy they can add to your life. This isn’t just a belief. Scientific research supports the fact that being a pet owner not only makes you happier, but it also makes you healthier.

Petplan, one of the UK’s leading pet insurers, decided to conduct a study to determine where the happiest pet owners in the world live.

An artificial intelligence facial emotion tool was used to detect the levels of emotions displayed on the faces of people with their pets. They used Instagram and Google Images to source photographs.

They used hashtags such as #dogowner on the social media platform and dog owner in the search engine.

A score out of 100 was assigned for detectable emotions such as happiness and fear.

According to this study, the happiest pet owners live in New Zealand. The photos from this country achieved an average happiness score of 88.4. Brazil was second with a score of 83.8.

Canada came in seventh with a score of 76.6. Hungary, the Netherlands, Australia, and South Africa ranked ahead of us with the UK coming in tenth and the USA fourteenth.

The study also separated the scores by specific pet type. While Canada didn’t come in the top ten for dog happiness, they ranked fifth when it came to the joy provided by felines. Brazil and New Zealand took top spots respectively for being happy dog and cat owners.

It’s fun to see where different countries ranked, but does that really matter in the grand scheme of things? To me the more important question is whether owning a pet makes you happier.

Petplan wanted to know this too. They returned to the AI facial emotion recognition tool and the internet. This time they used the Instagram tag #selfie and selfies as the term for Google Image searches.

Each country was assigned a score that was considered to be representative of their level of happiness regardless of whether they owned a pet. The pet owner scores were then compared to the scores assigned to the selfies.

Without exception, people with pets were judged to be happier. And not just a little bit happier. In Belgium, pet owners were found to be 172.2% happier than the selfie group. Canada came in second place with pet owners receiving a score that was 158% greater.

Owning a pet takes time, money, and commitment. It isn’t something to enter into lightly or on a whim. But if you have a pet, or are considering taking the plunge, here are some of the benefits you can enjoy.

  • You’ll get healthier and fitter if you walk your dog or play with your pet.
  • Interacting with others when you’ve got your pet with you is a great way to make new friends or meet that special someone.
  • Stroking a pet will lower your stress hormones and release feel-good ones. It’s a great way to stay mentally and emotionally healthy.
  • Pets provide companionship. A 2019 study showed that almost 9 out of 10 people see their pet as a member of the family.
  • Owning a pet can help you create routine in your life. Habits are especially important if you are on the spectrum or suffer from anxiety or stress.

Being the owner of a senior dog means I know our years together are growing ever shorter. It’s something anyone who’s ever owned a pet understands. It’s almost inevitable that when you get a pet you’ll have to live through the heartbreak of their death.

I know many people who felt the grief of their pet passing, so intensely that they’ve vowed never to do it again. But as the saying goes, perhaps it’s better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.

Whatever your situation, take time on Friday to give your pet or somebody else’s a little extra love. And if you are in the market for a pet, remember the original purpose of national dog day and consider visiting your local SPCA or shelter.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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