I have met emotional support dogs and understand why you would feel calm having a dog close by at all times. Whenever I volunteer at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, the dogs turn any frown upside down.
Our family dogs not only made me feel safe and protected, but on many occasion they also calmed my adolescence. I could turn to any one of them when I needed to redirect my anxiety over family squabbling.
How did the stress of growing up in a turbulent household diminish?
Dogs wanted to play with me. Playing together distracted me for hours from our family worries. And with dogs, there was always poop to be picked up or bedding to be cleaned. They enjoyed learning and eagerly gave me all their attention if I wanted to work with them. Anyone with a dog who loves to fetch knows how easy it is to pass hours tossing a ball. If I wanted to have a dog even just sit next to me and listen to my worries, one of them always would.
Dogs have always been excellent at distracting me. Is there a certain dog gene I carry that makes me susceptible? Is this why someone would visibly and physically respond to a dog they don't know?
This ability to distract and engage my attention so completely continues with dogs I meet at Muttville. Each week, whether I am surrounded by new dogs, or dogs I met previously, they still offer a unique calming effect on my demeanor.
I can understand the role emotional support dogs play. Just look at Oscar's face in this photo, he's showing you how to thoroughly enjoy a walk!
When you look at a dog's face how does it make you feel? What about a dog's relaxed body language? When they smile do you return the look?