We Feel Better in Minutes
|We Feel Better in Minutes|
We are always looking for the magic elixir that will make us feel better right now. While that search continues, we already know one thing that will make us feel better in the span of time it takes to walk into a room: spending a moment with a dog. In a matter of minutes, dogs can change our mood and our physical system, making us feel better just to be with them.
LISA’S FOCUS WAS on her career. “It wasn’t just while I was at the office that I thought of work first,” Lisa says. “Work was a part of every decision I made. Six months after I started I moved twenty minutes closer to the office so that I could spend that extra time working.” But when her company’s retail stores saw their sales decline, Lisa’s entire department was laid off. At some level she knew it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t anything she had done that caused her to lose her job. Still, she didn’t really accept that. “It’s hard to take a job loss as anything but a personal failure,” she says. Out of work for the first time in her adult life, and muddling through a bumpy search for a new job, Lisa fell into nearly constant sadness. Things didn’t start to look up until a friend asked a huge favor. Could she take care of Parker, a Gordon setter, while the friend was out of town for three weeks?
Lisa was reluctant. She’d never had a dog—she’d never had the time for one. But she said yes because she didn’t want to see the dog sent off to a kennel for that long. Lisa was amazed at Parker’s effect on her life. “There was this whole new vibe to my life,” Lisa says. “It’s silly, but there was something else on my plate besides worrying about finding a job. And even when I was working on my job search, somehow it didn’t seem so hopeless with a big smiling face and wagging tail by my side.”
Contact with a dog has positive effects on stress levels and immune functions that start in less than five minutes and endure for more than nine times as long as the contact itself. (Barker et al. 2005)