Lisa Wehr's Public Health Blog

Lisa is originally from Sigourney, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music in 2010. She is currently a first year Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student in community and behavioral health (CBH). Lisa works on the medicine-psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Through this blog Lisa hopes to let people learn about the CBH department.

This student blog is unedited and does not necessarily reflect the views of the College of Public Health or the University of Iowa.

07 February 2011

Scientific support for the love of my life

...the furry, four-legged one that is.

If you've read many of my posts and noticed my [mild] obsession with my dog, Zephyr, you probably expect that I get really excited when I come across scientific studies regarding the benefits of pets!

On a purely anecdotal level, my dog has huge benefits for me. He forces me to get out and exercise every day;  not just moderate exercise, either. To control his energy level I get the full-out very vigorous label. And to keep up with all his exercise needs I have to keep myself well-nourished. I can't spend all day asleep in bed, Zef is bouncing atop me by 10 a.m. (it used to be 6, so we're making progress).

And it's hard to have a bad mood around him. He loves life from the moment he wakes up; everything (even nail trimming) is turned into some type of game. Making a bed? He hides under blankets. Drying his feet? the towel become a tug rope. Throwing anything in the air? It's a game of fetch! (true story, one time I was tossing a rolled-up pair of socks and he caught them and swallowed them). I've also learned to "go with the flow" and that most "emergencies" aren't really things to get stressed about. In addition to the socks he has eaten a bar of soap, a highlighter, hairties, a sharpie, a plastic frisbee (yep, actually swallowed the pieces), he licked a razor blade, sliced his foot on a piece of tin roofing, and has broken a front tooth.

To get an idea of what his personality is like, check out the video below. 

Of course, he's no therapist. And it's not to say he's without stresses (finding a place for him to stay when I travel, food, vet bills [fortunately my mother's a vet], training, and other time/financial investments). Many people told me I should wait to get a dog. Do I wish I had paid more attention to their advice? Some days. Would it change my decision? No. I'm not saying that everyone should get a dog. I really think each individual needs to closely examine how much effort and stress they're willing to take for a pet, but in my case I can never be fully happy without a dog. And there is no way in the world I would give me dog up.

And I try not to get too freaked out by studies that show therapy dogs may spread MRSA and CDiff. Or the medical and training controversies fueled by pets sleeping in the bed (you better believe that Zephyr owns my queen-size bed). Or the ridiculous amount of vacuuming I do every week. Or the amount of money I spend on tennis balls and frisbees.

But how can you look at this face and continue to worry about all that?
Or even just see that silly little bob-tail.


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