Go to the Dogs 12

The Health Benefits of Pets

It’s simple, really. To be healthy you eat your greens, log time at the gym and get plenty of rest. It’s kind of common sense, but something is missing from the aforementioned formula: pets.

They’re the unequivocal champions of health. Pets love to run, socialize and always seem to enjoy the present moment. It’s in their nature to be the health coaches that remind humans to focus on the essentials of life and to enrich us physically, mentally and emotionally.

Voted as one of the best hiking clubs in western North Carolina, Brother Wolf’s Outward Hound program enriches the bond between person, pet and nature with long excursions through trails and parks. A dog can have you stepping up your cardio game, ensuring both a happy pet and the recommended cardio activity per week (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week as prescribed by the American Heart Association). Yet the perks go beyond the physical benefits of toned calves.

“In my experience of doing this for 10 years, people have emailed me telling me how their pets have improved their health physically, emotionally and mentally,” Brother Wolf president Denise Bitz says.

Bitz can vet the holistic impact that cats and dogs have on people’s lives. Part of the adoption process is playing matchmaker, ensuring that the relationship between person and pet is symbiotic. “We’re a bit like Match.com for animals,” Denise says, describing the process. While securing a proper home is important for the pet, it’s important for the pet to enrich the person’s life as well.

“It’s important to make sure that dog gets a proper home,” Denise says,“but what we’ve found is that it really strengthens the bonds between person and dog.” A strong bond is what differentiates having a pet and having a best friend. Pets are known to reduce stress and provide partnership.

Another major benefit of having a pet is the community it entails. Asheville is a remarkably pet-friendly community, where bowls of water and pet welcome signs can be seen at many storefronts. When you’re walking your own dog at Carrier Park or downtown, you may find yourself suddenly included in a community that’s both two-legged and four.