Category Archives: dogs and families

Pets (not siblings) are a child’s best friend

Children get more satisfaction from relationships with their pets than with their brothers or sisters, according to research from the University of Cambridge. Children also appear to get on even better with their animal companions than with siblings.

Child's best friend

The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental

Matt Cassells

The research adds to increasing evidence that household pets may have a major influence on child development, and could have a positive impact on children’s social skills and emotional well-being.

Pets are almost as common as siblings in western households, although there are relatively few studies on the importance of child-pet relationships.

‘‘Anyone who has loved a childhood pet knows that we turn to them for companionship and disclosure, just like relationships between people,” says Matt Cassells, a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the Department of Psychiatry, who led the study. “We wanted to know how strong these relationships are with pets relative to other close family ties. Ultimately this may enable us to understand how animals contribute to healthy child development”

This study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, was conducted in collaboration with the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, part of Mars Petcare and co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of a larger study, led by Prof Claire Hughes at the University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research.

Researchers surveyed 12 year old children from 77 families with one or more pets of any type and more than one child at home. Children reported strong relationships with their pets relative to their siblings, with lower levels of conflict and greater satisfaction in owners of dogs than other kinds of pets.

‘‘Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” says Cassels. “The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental.

“While previous research has often found that boys report stronger relationships with their pets than girls do, we actually found the opposite. While boys and girls were equally satisfied with their pets, girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, perhaps indicating that girls may interact with their pets in more nuanced ways.’’

“Evidence continues to grow showing that pets have positive benefits on human health and community cohesion,” says Dr Nancy Gee, Human-Animal Interaction Research Manager at WALTHAM and a co-author of the study. “The social support that adolescents receive from pets may well support psychological well-being later in life but there is still more to learn about the long term impact of pets on children’s development.”

Reference
​Cassells, M et al. One of the family? Measuring early adolescents’ relationships with pets and siblings. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology; 24 Jan 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.appdev.2017.01.003

Source:  University of Cambridge media statement

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Dogs at the wedding

Wedding photo

Penny, front and center, posed with the family following the wedding of Linnea Elizabeth Sanderson and Dr. Robert Collier Davidson, right, in February. Credit Kieran Kesner for The New York Times

Dogs are part of the family and, increasingly, they are being included in their owner’s Big Day.  (I’m invited to a wedding in October that will include the couple’s dogs – Bernese Mountain Dogs –  and look forward to sharing that with my readers).

In this article from the New York Times, a Vermont-based photographer says that half of the weddings on his schedule this season involve a dog. And most of the owners interviewed say that they wouldn’t think of not involving their beloved dog in the ceremony.

Did you include your dog in your wedding?  I’d love to see the photos!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pet friendly senior living

TigerPlace is a retirement community that helps residents care for their pets as both age.

Located in Colombia, Missouri, this retirement community offers one-floor living to make it easy for owners and pets to enjoy the outdoors.  And there’s on-site veterinary care!Senior gentleman and dog sitting on ground and posing in a park

Described as “pet encouraging” as opposed to “pet tolerating”, this facility even offers dog walkers for older residents who are finding it difficult to give their dog the exercise it needs.

This article in the Missourian gives greater insight into the facility and its value to its residents.  This includes following 90-year old Elizabeth Kennedy who lives at TigerPlace with her 12-year old Boston Terrier, Dolly.

The article mentions a growing trend for retirement communities to offer pet care and the  recognition and evidence that pets keep us living longer, more active, and happier lives.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

Trends in US travel for dog owners

DogVacay, the online site the connects dog parents who need home dog boarding, pet sitting and day care with qualified caregivers, has released its second annual State of U.S. Pet Travel survey.

dogs and travelIt shows that dog parents still face obstacles when needing or wanting to travel.

For example:

  • 60% of dog owners say arranging accommodation for their dog adds complexity to travel planning
  • 34% of owners say they often struggle to find a pet sitter when they need to travel at short notice
  • 22% of owners have delayed or skipped a planned vacation because of challenges in arranging care for their dog(s)
  • 50% say finding a good kennel or pet sitter has affected planning for their vacation
  • Another three in ten (27%) say financial challenges such as kennel fees or paying a pet deposit at a hotel have impacted their vacation plans

Also, 46% of dog owners agree that worrying about their dog(s) while they’re away makes it harder to enjoy their trip (I admit that I worry about Daisy when I have to travel for work or vacation, even when I have made arrangements for her care with reputable caregivers).

What’s your travel story?

 

We’re heading to London! (But how to take the dog?)

When journalist Danny Hakim was transferred from upstate New York to London, the most important issue was how to get Harley, the family’s Golden Retriever, there.

Photo by Luke Wolagiewicz for the New York Times
Photo by Luke Wolagiewicz for the New York Times

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.  Read it here.

How did your family cope with relocating with dogs?  Get in touch.

Your dog, personal trainer

I just had to share this poster which I purchased from SPARC (Sport and Recreation.  It sums up one of the great benefits of dog ownership:  more exercise.

It has been said “If your dog is overweight than you are not getting enough exercise.”  Dogs need daily exercise and, in my case, I walk with Daisy twice per day.  Walking is excellent weight-bearing exercise, which helps keep bones strong which is a particular concern of many women as they age and are at risk of osteoporosis.

Get out there with your dog today and enjoy some quality time and exercise too!

For a beloved member of the family

This column, For a beloved member of the family in memoriam, was written by Bella English, a columnist for The Boston Globe newspaper.

It touches on that special relationship we have with our dogs, and the grief and mourning we experience when they pass.

I hope this item resonates with you as much as it does with me.