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Mental Health Benefits of Dogs & Adoption Locations in Chicago

Mental Health Benefits of DogsHaving a furry companion during the COVID-19 pandemic is an absolute blessing.  For those of us removed from family and loved ones, an adoring animal can change the entire atmosphere of a living situation. 

Dogs have always been my personal favorite pet because of their loving energy and endless affection.  Their attentiveness and tenderness have a plethora of mental health benefits, too.  If you’re looking to add a dog to your household, here are just a few of their positive health effects. 

Mindfulness

Having a dog in the house can increase our mindfulness.  With the stresses of a pandemic, many of us have been relying on certain tactics for necessary guidance.  An increase of activities like yoga and meditating makes sense during such trying times.  Petting, playing, or walking a dog can be similarly helpful to reconnecting with our bodies. 

A primary focus in meditation is to be present in our body.  Increasing mindfulness is a difficult task that dogs are known to aid with.  “The benefits of interacting with a dog is the opportunity it provides to be more mindful – to purposely focus your attention on the present moment” (1).  Increasing mindfulness is something sitting down and petting your dog’s fur can improve. 

Even walking your dog can strengthen your mental health.  Of course, exercising has a long list of proven benefits.  But excluding the physical elements, the perfunctory nature of walking can make it “possible to recover the pure sense of being” (1).  Doing an easy exercise to clear the mind is endlessly helpful for invoking body connectedness. 

Loneliness & Depression

Humans are extremely social beings by default.  Cutting off our daily interactions can be extremely difficult at times.  Dogs can play an essential role in stabilizing our happiness while providing wonderful companionship. 

The support of a furry confidante can be as stress-relieving as living with a close friend or family member.  The “bond and companionship” of a dog can make a “huge difference in mental health” (1).  With so many of us missing out on our in-person relationships, canines can be a great supplement for these interactions.  The beautiful bond we have with our pups has an extremely positive effect on quelling or eliminating loneliness.  

Structure & Routine

This is my biggest problem when it comes to quarantine.  Some days feel inconceivably long, with no structure to divide up the hours.  Taking care of a dog, or any household pet, solves this issue with their routine upkeep. 

Dogs, especially, need care and playtime that need attention at specific times in the day.  The days where it’s hard to be motivated might dissipate because you’ll “have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care” (2) for your pet.  Just like mindfulness, supporting your animal requires focus and attention.  Adding your pet’s upkeep into your daily routine, days that feel most daunting can become more manageable.. 

Balance is an integral part of our lives as human beings.  Having everyday tasks and structure, like caring for a pet, are essential to positive mental health practices in quarantine.   

Lowering Stress

There’s been many studies that show how petting an animal can reduce stress.  Apparently, “just 10 minutes can have a significant impact” (3) on high stress levels. 

The science behind it has to do with the cortisol in our body.  When petting a dog, cortisol levels have been known to drop dramatically.  With this, an increase in motivating hormones like serotonin occurs, which can decrease stress.  Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications often try to increase the levels of serotonin in our brain similarly.  If medication isn’t your first choice, petting an animal can be closely effective. 

Adopting in Chicago

Now that we know the mental health benefits of having a canine companion, you might be searching for a place to retrieve one.  There are plenty of adoption centers in Chicago to visit for any dog lover.  Here are some of the prime locations for adopting in the city. 

Red Door Animal Shelter

Located on the far north side of Chicago, Red Door is a highly recommended animal shelter and adoption center.  Utilizing private funds, the shelter is focused on relocating abused pets from dogs to rabbits. 

There are several benefits from adopting at Red Door.  They offer neutering, spaying, and admittance for their pets with the inclusion of pet food for any low-income families.  With a vehement no-kill policy as well, this humane adoption location is perfect for any north side resident. 

Check out their website at www.reddoorshelter.org

Chicago Canine Rescue

Founded in 2001, this dog rescue has saved and rehousing over 7,000 pets in the Chicago area.  The dogs come to the rescue from various places around the area: other animal facilities, overwhelmed families, and rural partners to name a few. 

Housing all pets in need of a loving home, this shelter has many great options for adopting.  Especially for those averse to getting a puppy, the Chicago Canine Rescue takes in a large number of older dogs.  As humane as you can get, this rescue shows an unprecedented amount of love for their animals. 

Find more about the dogs, donating, and volunteering at https://chicagocaninerescue.org/  

One Tail at a Time

Located right on the edge of Wicker Park, this rescue shelter has a tenacious mission to end pet homelessness.  Started in an apartment in 2007, the project has grown into a quintessential adoption location in Chicago. 

One Tail at a Time has a long history of intercepting city shelter and rehousing those abandoned dogs.  They’ve hosted numerous vaccine clinics and often create temporary housing for sick animals.  The persistence in finding dogs a loving home shows in their programs and accomplishments.  With many dogs to peruse on their website, there’s definitely a pet for everyone at this rescue. 

Check out adoptable pets at their website https://www.onetail.org/

Quarantine can be difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone.  There are animals across the city waiting for a comfortable home to scoop them up.  With science backing up the obvious mental health benefits, finding a great dog is more important than ever.

Citation List

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-right-balance/201804/how-dogs-drive-emotional-well-being
  2. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm
  3. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/pets/a28463734/petting-dog-cat-relieve-stress/