Sometimes you have moments in life and years later you look back and think, “Oh, that’s what that was.” I had that happen last night watching an episode of This Is Us.

Dogs know. Dogs know who’s sad, who is hurting, and they know who needs a friend to sit with. Our home in Halifax was an emotional mess after our daughter died. It was the kind of pain that scarred us forever.

I don’t think about those first few days very often but when I do I think of our little pug Ozzy before I think of anything else. He knew. He did his best to try and comfort us, in his silly ways. He made us laugh. He made us smile when it didn’t feel like we would ever smile again.

Ozzy was Rehtaeh’s dog. We always believed that. She found him for us. She brought him into our lives and he was there for us when she was gone.

Dogs just have this built in ability to be acutely attuned to humans and our behaviours and emotions. A dog can look you in the eyes and see how you feel.

I don’t remember which scene in the series made me think of dogs and Rehtaeh but I’m glad it did.

On one of the days when she was staying in a mental health ward we spent an afternoon at the SPCA in Dartmouth. We walked two dogs that afternoon, and they both knew she was hurting. I didn’t see it then, but this dogs knew Rae needed the same affection and love they did.

Consider adopted a dog. They heal you like medicine. They get you up in the morning when you want to sleep all day and they say hello when you come home as if you coming in the door is the best thing that’s ever happened.

Open your heart to letting a dog help you.

While most dog owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with canine companions, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.

Studies have found that:

  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.