6 ways having a dog can make life more awesome

Get a dog, they said. It will be great, they said. "They" were absolutely right.

Dogs are the best. Besides the obvious things, like cuddling and cleaning up your crumbs on the floor before you have to, there are some real tangible benefits to opening your arms to a canine — benefits you may be surprised to learn.

1. Homes that remain burglar-free are more likely to be homes that also have dogs.

From a report from the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice: "On average, burglarized houses are less likely to have dogs than are non-burglarized houses, suggesting that dog ownership is a substantial deterrent."


The report notes that small dogs can be noisy little attention-getters, and big dogs can make a would-be robber physically intimidated.


This dog is practically daring you to try messing with their human. Image by Robert Judge/Flickr.

2. Dogs can regulate our moods by stimulating our brain chemicals!

"People take drugs like heroin and cocaine to raise serotonin and dopamine, but the healthy way to do it is to pet your dog, or hug your spouse, watch sunsets, or get around something beautiful in nature," according to psychology professor Blair Justice.

When you're sad about a breakup, your dog will still be there to snuggle you and let you call them embarrassing terms of endearment. Image via Jan Vašek/Pexels.

3. Dogs can keep us more active and help us manage our health.

"The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets and People" by Rebecca Johnson notes, "People who are the least active have the highest risk for a number of negative health outcomes, and evidence suggests that as little as one hour per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can reduce risk of all-cause mortality and coronary artery disease."

So just having a little pal itching to go for a walk, helping to motivate us to get off the couch, can put us on a path to a longer life.


"Aren't you glad we stopped watching 'Project Runway' for a while and took this stroll, Mom?" Image via Karen Arnold/Wikimedia Commons.

4. They can help children with autism be more successful.

Autistic children with a pet in the house may develop better social skills, like assertion. And the benefits don't stop with the children; research shows that families with autistic children benefit from the companionship of a dog, relieving stressors that occur with the caregiver responsibilities.

GIF from University of Missouri News Bureau.

5. Service dogs aren't only for the blind. They can help with other disabilities, too.

“Moray is able to do a multitude of tasks that many people take for granted," says Lorraine Harrison, a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, tells the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. "He draws the bedroom curtains, fills/empties the washing machine and he is especially good at changing the bedding as I don't have the strength to do this on my own. On one occasion, I fell in the kitchen, and Moray did exactly as he was trained and went to fetch the telephone for me to call for help."

A service dog keeps a child company in the hospital. Image by Zipster969/Wikimedia Commons.

6. And dogs can give you a plethora of opportunities to harness your creative side.

Whether they're acting as muse for painting, writing, music, or for dusting off your photography chops, dogs can often be found doing something that will make life feel very rich indeed.

How could you not tiptoe in and get a picture of this? Image by wsilver/Flickr.

“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift." — Mary Oliver, "Dog Songs"

So dog lovers rejoice — what you've known all along has been validated. Dogs are a very smart choice in life companions!

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture