How To Be a Mindful Dog Walker

To discover the peace of the present moment.
Mindful dog walking
One of the things we love about dogs is their attention to the sensory world—no thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Just the here and now. By following their example, we can learn to turn down the volume and occupy the present.

Some days, it’s hard to get out of our heads and into our lives. We might be stuck on an emotion, mentally replaying an event that didn’t go as planned or worrying about a “What if” occurring in the future.

As a mental health counselor, I not only deal with my own questions and concerns about the “What ifs” in life, I try to help my clients manage their thoughts and emotions around the unknowns as well. I can’t always provide answers to the “What if” questions, but I do try to help my clients recognize what is in their control and what is not.

Disaster Readiness – Yes, Again!

If you have been following the weather news, you might have guessed what this post was going to be about, am I right?

So, we had a little dress rehearsal for fire season a month ago. Here in California, we had a unseasonal storm that featured a ton of thunder and lightning and ignited hundred of wildfires all over our state. One fire started fairly close to my home, which triggered evacuation warnings and caused my husband and I to go through our evacuation checklist and get prepared to evacuate. At that time, I also had to drive my grandson to an airport that is three hours away, so he could fly home to his mom after spending a good bit of the summer here, so my husband was left with the burden of being ready to load up the dogs and go if the fire blew up.

Fortunately for me, the very local edition of the lightning-sparked fire was extinguished pretty rapidly. Within a few days, it was a non-event.

Elsewhere in the state, though, lightning from the same storm ignited fires that grew and grew. Tens of thousands of people all over the state were displaced by the fires – forced to evacuate their homes with just what they could pack into their vehicles. Hundreds later learned they had no homes to return to.

Getting ready for an evacuation

Other fires that were sparked into being in mid-August smoldered quietly in very sparsely populated parts of the state until recently, when a freak windstorm blew several of them into monsters. My husband and I woke up several times in the night, hearing a strong wind blowing the trees around and smelling smoke more strongly than in recent weeks (the smoky sky had been persistent but not awful previously). We woke up with the news that the fire that had been burning about 40 miles from us was moving FAST in our direction. In a matter of hours, we learned that our area was being given a warning: be ready to evacuate.

Given the wind, I took the warning quite seriously. I filled up both our car and our truck with gas, got cash, and started staging things that the dogs would need if we had to evacuate: a big soft crate, dog food, bowls, leashes, poop bags, their vet records. I put on their collars, the ones with my phone number stitched into them. I had a foster puppy here, too – a pup who was found with a badly broken leg and, while staying with me, had surgery the previous week to amputate the not-reparable leg. I put his medications and Otto’s in the “to go” pile near the back door.

As the afternoon wore on and the news got increasingly dramatic, I took my work computer apart and loaded it and all my backup drives and cameras into a big plastic tub and put it in the car. All evening, I kept thinking of things I wouldn’t want to live without and putting them into a suitcase, just in case. The wind was so awful.

At 11 pm, all of a sudden my phone started screeching with an emergency warning: Our area was being ordered to evacuate. Now. Mandatory.

Even with all that prior preparation, it took my husband and I over an hour to load everything that we had staged into the car and truck. Part of it was the stress brought on by the urgency of the evacuation order; it’s amazing how shaky you can get when the thing you’ve been preparing so hard for suddenly happens. Part of it has to do with my husband’s OCD; he has to keep checking and checking his list to make sure we’ve done all the things he wanted to do before we left: water the oak trees we planted in the spring, pull anything flammable away from the house, make sure the sprinklers are set to come on every day while we are gone, check the locks on all the outbuilding, etc. As I waited for him with the dogs in the car, I texted with a friend who had offered a place for us to land about 20 miles away, and talked to my sister on the phone; she and her husband were evacuating in another direction, headed to our sister-in-law’s house.

As we drove down the back roads headed for the two-lane highway that leads to my town, so much ash was swirling through the air, it looked like snow in the headlights. Every so often, whole blackened leaves swirled through the ash, too. The black leaves scared us; if whole leaves that had been burned could be carried more than 10 miles by the wind, surely burning embers could, too?

We arrived at my friend’s house at around 1 am. We had brought a tent and sleeping bags, but my friend ushered us into a spare bedroom that was all made up for us – so sweet! She collected her four little dogs, each of whom is a rescue from my friend’s long career in animal sheltering and each of whom was barking like the fiercest protectors of the property; she locked them all in her bedroom (my apologies to her husband!). I set up a huge soft crate in the bedroom, and after letting them go potty outside, put my young dog, Woody, and the foster puppy in the soft crate together. Then I went to bring Otto in the house – whoops! He didn’t like the tile floor he had to cross to get into the bedroom, and didn’t like the sound of the four barking little dogs in the other room. I could read his mind: “Mom, I’d feel a lot better sleeping in our car.” And so I made him a nice bed on the back seat, with the windows cracked and a non-spill bowl of water.

When I got back into the house, my husband was in bed, and the puppy was sprawled, sound asleep, taking up far more than half of the huge soft crate. Though Woody often slept with the puppy at home, he didn’t seem to feel comfortable sleeping with the pup in the crate and he was sitting up, leaning miserably against the side of the crate, making a Woody-shaped bulge in the fabric. I unzipped the side zipper as quietly as I could, and he slithered out the side exit, leaving the foster pup sleeping soundly – an evacuation miracle! The pup had a big aversion to crates in general, which I had been working on by allowing him to chew on meaty bones and food-stuffed Kong toys only when he was in a crate, but he was still prone to kicking up a big fuss once his treat was over and he realized the door was closed. Even when we woke in the morning he was quiet!

When I took the puppy and Woody outside to let all three dogs go potty and to give them breakfast, I was shocked by how much ash had accumulated on every surface, just like snow would have.

The news of the fire was awful; it had traveled about 30 miles in the previous 20 or so hours and it had burned through several small communities. As of that morning, it was stopped about 7 miles from my sister’s house and 10 miles from mine. We wouldn’t be going home soon.

Next, we delivered the foster pup to his adoptive family; they had been prepared to take him the following week, once his stitches had been removed, but given the evacuations, this was going to work out better. And I’m a little embarrassed to report that we spent the next two nights in a nice hotel in the state capitol about an hour even farther away from the fire.

Relief: The dogs were perfect gentlemen in the hotel, though the hotel charged us a $100 “nonrefundable pet deposit,” an amusing oxymoron. They earned it though, because Otto left a considerable amount of red hair on the dark brown carpet. Also, the air was better (though still smoky), good enough to walk around the park that surrounds the state capitol building. Woody especially liked watching the squirrels that leap from tree to tree in the hundred-year-old trees in the park.

Just as we were having dinner in our room on the second night, I received a text: Our neighborhood was being downgraded to an evacuation warning again; we could go home. Comfortable as we were, and having already paid for the night, we stayed until the next morning.

Emergency animal shelters are no walk in the park

Well, it was a nice vacation of sorts. Time to get home and get to work – volunteer work at the emergency shelter set up to take in evacuated pets and animals that had been rescued by first responders from the fire. I had spent weeks and weeks helping care for dogs who were displaced by the infamous Camp Fire two years ago, and had taken the training sessions provided by the North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG), the organization that runs the shelter. Several people I had met and worked with and had become friends with during the Camp Fire had already been hard at work at the emergency shelter; more than 150 dogs and at least 100 cats, bunnies, pet birds, and more were already at the shelter.

Emergency animal shelters are sort of like Red Cross shelters: People go to Red Cross shelters and have a place to sleep, to eat, and to be safe, but shelters are not exactly comfortable and can be crowded and stressful. Similarly, in emergency animal shelters, we keep all the animals safe and feed them, but the accommodations are similarly crowded and stressful. The animals are kept in wire crates, in some instances stacked two high, and positioned close together. It’s loud from the barking of stressed dogs and from fans. We position flattened cardboard boxes between the crates and use sheets to try to block the views of the ones who get triggered by seeing other dogs walk by, but there is a lot of barking no matter what we do.

There are two types of animals in the shelter: Those who were brought to the shelter for safe-keeping by families who had to evacuate, and those who were brought in by first responders. Sometimes people are looking for these “stray” animals, but sometimes, for whatever reasons, their owners don’t look for them and they end up getting sent to the regular county animal shelter like any other stray animal. And so the county needs to be prepared to care for a certain number of unclaimed animals for some time.

It takes a village to care for animals displaced by emergencies

It takes a small army of volunteers to manage to take care of all the animals’ most basic needs. The volunteers I’ve met are all extraordinary people, strongly committed to doing everything they can for the animals in the shelter. But, in the face of a local emergency, with many volunteers themselves displaced, with terrible, smoky air to breathe, and more animals to care for than there are volunteers to care for them, it never feels like a completely successful effort. I imagine that people who work with displaced human populations feel the same way; the need feels overwhelming, and trying to make uncomprehending animals comfortable in a situation that is completely uncomfortable for them is taxing.

Each dog needs to be taken from his or her crate and walked outdoors on a leash, while someone else cleans the crate, replaces the dog’s bedding, dumps any dirty water that is in the bowl, refills it, and dishes an appropriate amount of food into a food bowl or paper tray. Ideally, one person performs those tasks while two or three others walk the dogs. Each person who walks a dog makes notes on the dog’s chart: Did the dog go pee, poop, or both? Were any worms seen in the stool, or blood? If the dog had any signs of illness or discomfort – ear infection, lameness, sores, etc. – these are noted or their progress followed. If each dog is walked for about 10 minutes, a three or four person team can get out only about 18 to 24 dogs an hour. The numbers have been changing daily as some dogs are brought in and others are picked up, but in this disaster, there have been around 150 dogs being sheltered for over a week now.

All of this goes smoothly only with the help of even more people who are checking the shelter’s supplies of dog food, bedding, paper towels, zip ties, disinfectant and spray bottles, garbage bags, pens, you name it. People to haul away the giant garbage bags of refuse and poop bags. People to take away crates that have been broken and chewed through by large, anxious dogs and replace them with new crates. People to wash bowls. People to provide veterinary care and administer medications. People to follow the paperwork, to track down owners who are staying with relatives or friends or at human shelters. People to order food and drinks and ice (and masks) for all the volunteers, and haul away the trash after meals, too. It makes for very long days – and all under the emergency conditions, complete with weather that may or may not be cooperating, road closures, bad air, etc.

It’s incredibly humbling to learn that some of the people who are here to help are from other counties — and even other states. And that some are laboring at their regular jobs, and then coming to work another six hours after work to help. Incredible.

Many displaced animals come from underprivileged areas, and it shows

People who know California only by reputation might think it’s all urban and upscale. The fact is, where I live in far northern California, it’s rural and fairly low-income. Translate this to mean that some of the pets have had little in the way of routine veterinary care. Most of the dogs are mixed-breeds; many are intact. Many of the dogs have fleas and flea-allergy dermatitis. Some dogs are way too thin; some are way too fat – like, if they were humans, they’d weigh 400 pounds. There are 4-month-old pups who are terrified of humans and can’t be touched, and 14-year-old dogs who have to be carried to go potty. There are some fit, healthy dogs, too, but they don’t stick in our brains the way the sad dogs do. It gives us a little relief to take a few extra minutes to lavish a little extra care on some of these dogs – rooting through the piles of donated blankets and towels for extra thick ones for the sore, old dogs to sleep on at night, or hunting through the donated foods for better ones to give the extra skinny dogs. Again, I imagine this is similar to how people who work or volunteer in human shelters must feel – that the need for help is overwhelming.

Coming home to our clean, well-fed dogs, sleeping on their extra thick beds in the house, feels so strange after triaging these underprivileged dogs.

I know that not everyone lives in an area where they are subject to the specific danger of wildfires – but just about everyone lives somewhere that experiences some form of natural disaster occasionally, whether it’s flooding, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or that wind/rain thing that happened in Ohio recently. I implore everyone I know to prepare for the possibility of having to leave their homes with their pets in case of emergency. Bring or keep your animals with you if you possibly can. Cultivate a network of friends or family members who live at a reachable distance (but not so close that they are in the same boat as you in case of a disaster), and offer them mutual aid; if they need help, help them, and vice versa. And if you are able to do those things in a disaster, and can possibly help people who don’t have these resources, please do. Find out when your local animal aid organizations offer new volunteer orientation and training so that you know how to best help when a disaster strikes. There are national organizations, both nonprofit (such as the ASPCA) and governmental (FEMA) that offer online courses that meet the training requirements for some aid agencies.  The ASPCA has a great list of training opportunities here. If my experience is any guide, I can guarantee that you will meet some really amazing folks who are also helping.

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Heartworm Prevention for Dogs with Food Allergies

Did you know that there are unflavored heartworm preventative chews available, as well as other forms of preventatives? I didn’t either, until recently. 

Pixel, my sister’s dog, was just diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease that was causing inflammation of her intestinal tract and malabsorption of food. Fortunately, this condition was quickly resolved by changing Pixel’s diet to a novel protein and eliminating any foods with beef, pork, or chicken and she is now thriving. Then it became time to administer her monthly chewable heartworm preventative. My sister hesitated: The chewable preventative medication that she ordinarily used to protect Pixel was flavored with chicken, which Pixel couldn’t have. Fortunately, there are alternatives, and Pixel’s veterinarian was happy to change Pixel’s prescription to one of these.

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by Dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic roundworm that is transmitted to dogs through the bite of a mosquito. Unfortunately, canines are natural hosts for the parasite, and once it infects a dog’s body, the larvae mature into adults, mate and reproduce, with the adult forms of the heartworm residing in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels. Heartworm disease can cause lasting damage to a dog’s body and have a long term effect on health and quality of life. Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states; risk levels for contracting the disease vary and are difficult to assess. Accordingly, prevention is usually necessary in most areas. Heartworm medications do not actually prevent the transmission of the heartworm, but rather they act to destroy the larval stages of the parasite, preventing the development of the larvae into adult heartworms. 

Prevention of heartworm disease is usually achieved by the monthly oral administration of a flavored chew, which is highly effective when administered correctly. Most oral heartworm preventives, however, contain a protein-based component for flavoring, usually pork, soy, beef, or chicken, in their formulation. Because many dogs suffer from food allergies and sensitivities or are undergoing food elimination trials (and flavorings can interfere with and affect the success of the trial), heartworm prevention in these cases should be changed to a non-flavored oral formula or topically applied product. 

The monthly heartworm preventive HEARTGARD® (ivermectin) is available in an unflavored tablet form and does not include any food ingredients that may trigger an allergic reaction. A topical (applied externally to the body) heartworm preventative, such as Advantage Multi, Revolution, or Selarid, is another option, especially as this form completely bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. 

There is a third option: ProHeart 6 and ProHeart 12 take the form of sustained released injections of moxidectin (this ingredient is also available as a topical) and provide protection from heartworm infection for six months and twelve months respectively. Its use in the U.S., however, still draws controversy over concerns regarding adverse effects (ProHeart 6 was taken off the market in 2004 because of safety concerns, but it was reformulated and returned in 2008; ProHeart 12 was approved for the first time by the FDA for use in the U.S. in July 2019). In other countries, both products remain on the market and are in use.

As always, consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s prescription heartworm preventative.

Featured photo: Jasmina007/Getty Images

Read Next: Are Heartworms Developing Resistance to Preventatives?

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Rex – 10 year old male Cross-Breed

Rex is a beautiful 10 year old male Cross-Breed. Possibly a Labrador cross. He loves human affection but is not keen on sharing the attention with his other dogs in the home.

Although that being said he is dog friendly so a home with a calm / laid back dog would be okay.

He would prefer a quieter home with older children, he has been around a toddler and showed no interested so small visitors would be okay!

Rex is neutered! Based in Lincolnshire.

7 Reasons Dogs Would Make The Best Politicians

Citizens! All hail…the dogs?

Sounds great to us!

Dogs already rule our world so it seems natural to let them have the government too.

And it makes sense. Dogs have quite a few qualities that make them ideal for office! From leading with their heart to transparent business dealings, dogs will never lead us astray!

Check out these 7 reasons dogs would make the best politicians and we guarantee the pups will have your vote locked!


7 Reasons Dogs Get Our Votes

#1 – Dogs Listen and They Care

When it comes to your most important issues, dogs are paws down the best listeners and they care what you have to say. You can see it in their soulful eyes and feel it in their doggie hugs!

dogs politicians

#2 – Dogs Stick by Us Through Thick and Thin

Loyalty is one of the top qualities in a politician, but who wrote the book on how to be loyal? In the best times and worst times, pups will never give up on us!

Canine Fitness Camp/Facebook

#3 – Decisions Made with Logic and Love

The best leaders know how to make choices by using their head and heart. In logic and love, the best solutions can be found and dogs live by this law. As intelligent creatures, canines know just what needs to be done, and because they have heart aplenty, whatever choice a dog makes, its made with love.

Dogs of Instagram/Facebook

#4 – Dogs Believe Honesty is the Best Policy

The term ‘deception’ does not exist in the canine vernacular! Dogs lovers always know how a pup feels and what they want. There are no secrets when it comes to a dog’s agenda.

dogs politicians

#5 – Dogs Always Have our Back

Politicians want their people to be safe, just like dogs. And no matter what, when you’ve got your dog buddy by your side, you know your back is protected.


#6 – Like Good Leaders, We Never Want A Dog to Go

When a respected figure takes office and thrives, you never want them to leave. The imprint they leave echoes for long after and this holds true when it comes to our pups. Forget term limits, if we had our way, dogs would never have to go.


#7 – Dogs Handle Their “Business” in Public

Transparency is key when comes to government business. Constituents want access to all the dirty details. And you know what? Dogs are the ultimate when it comes to public “business” because they have no problem dumping info where they choose!

Animal Rescue League of Iowa

Alright, time to make your choice. Will you vote for dogs? We bet you will!

Feature Image: @love.a.bull.diesel/Instagram

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Try One of the Most Popular Canine Joint Pain Supplements for Under $15

Can Your Senior Begin ‘Acting Like a Puppy Again’?!

We have a saying here at iHeartDogs. We created it because we started hearing the same thing over and over again when it came to our canine joint supplement product.

It goes something like this. A customer with an older dog tries our Advanced Hip & Joint chews. They usually have tried a product before, but they either didn’t see results, or their dog refused to eat it.

They try our formula, and the first impression is “Wow, my dog actually ate this and thought it was a treat!” (the natural bacon flavor helps with that)

But it’s the next thing we often hear that literally brings tears to our eyes. We often hear: “My dog is acting like a puppy again!” ALAPA.

Because our formula contains high, therapeutic levels of 4 active ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and turmeric) its often significantly more effective than most joint products on the market. And like all products here on iHeartDogs, every single bottle provides donated meals for shelter dogs!

Stories from People Who’s Older Dogs Are ALAPA


“My nine year old dog was really slowing down and experiencing pain. I’ve been giving her this for about a month. She loves the taste. And even better, she’s acting like a puppy again! I would definitely recommend you try it with your dogs. – Kathleen E


My boy Jake will be 10 next month. I started him on these last year when he was slowing down. Since giving him these daily he seems to be a little more agile like when he was a puppy. Once the cold weather passes he will have fun outside even more. Thank you– Deanna


My seven-year-old dog loves these and runs around like a puppy again! – Sonja


This product is awesome. It has shrunk my corgis lymph tumor in a relatively short time and she moves like a little puppy now. People say she doesn’t look ten years old. For a dog with a torn CCL (ACL in humans) problem…worked wonders!!! – Diann

Great product! Even with my little girls arthritis and displaced patella she is running around like a puppy! She is 17 years old and people are amazed at how spry she is! –Deanna


These supplements have made a world of difference in our 9 year old golden retriever. She’s happier and running like a puppy again! We’re so glad we found you and this wonderful product!  – Mary


she jumps around like a puppy at times and walks like a champ.. I have a hard time keeping up with her these days.Susan


My 14 year old mini dachshund hasn’t moved this well since she was a puppy!  – Sarah

My nine year old dog was really slowing down and experiencing pain. I’ve been giving her this for about a month. She loves the taste. And even better, she’s acting like a puppy again! I would definitely recommend you try it with your dogs. – Kathleen


My dogs love this supplement! We have a beagle who started turning her nose up at another glucosamine supplement. We liked the ingredients in this better especially with the added turmeric. We are now giving to both our dogs. The beagle is 10 with a torn ACL and she runs around like a puppy – fantastic!–  Jennifer


“But What if It Doesn’t Work for My Dog?”

We understand every dog is unique and everyone’s circumstances different. That’s why we back every item sold with our Project Paws promise, which states that if you’re not completely satisfied with the product within 90 days, we’ll gladly refund the entire amount, no matter how much you used. You don’t even need to send it back! And the best part? We STILL donate to feed shelter dogs, even if we refund you!

Learn more or purchase the Advanced Hip & Joint chews here.

For a Limited Time, Try the Trial Size for Only $11.99 (only 300 available)


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. 


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Nieve – 14 month old female Cross-Breed

Nieve is a 14 month old female Cross-Breed. She is in the bigger side at roughly 20kg. She is a very energetic bubbly girl, who would benefit from a very active home with lots of local trails / walks as she gets very car sick so a home in a rural area would be brilliant.

She is house trained and crate trained, we would advise her new owner keep the use of the crate. She has made great progress in her foster home but can’t still get a bit over excited and jump up at human and nip sometimes.

So for these reasons we would ask for a experienced home with no children or older children who have experience with lively / energetic big dogs!

Nieve can be the only dog or would be happy with a dog of a similar energy level! Nieve will need an active home with someone who is able to stimulate her mentally and give her the physical exercise she needs, she can also scale a 5ft fence so having a secure garden area is an absolute must! She is so intelligent and very quick to learn so would be able to turn her paw to any activities!

Currently based in Dundee.

Madam Molly – 5 year old female Bulldog

Please meet Mad Madam Molly!! Molly is a gorgeous dinky Bulldog of approx 5 years old. Molly just wants to snuggle with you! Molly came to us when her owner felt she couldn’t keep her anymore as she was unhappy around the young children in the house.

She is without a doubt the sweetest little girl, she is very happy to plod around and loves sleeping on her bed. She loves mine even more and with a face and smile like hers, it’s very hard to say no!! She is perfectly clean in the house, is not destructive and can be left for short periods without any problems, in fact she loves being left to sleep!

She walks well on the lead, and is fantastic off the lead, she is ball and stick obsessed and quite often drags trees back to the car!! Molly loves to give you her paw, it’s very cute and when she is excited, she will literally throw her paw at you!! Molly doesn’t seem to know how to harness her excitement around humans, and will quite often bowl you over in her enthusiasm to say hello and get cuddles.

Molly is great with other dogs but always on her terms so she would like to be the only dog in the home. She is also fine with cats. She needs a Bulldog experienced home that fully understands the breeds needs and quirks!

Molly needs an adult only home, although we will consider homes with older teenagers if they are dog savvy.

She just wants to curl up in comfort and sleep! Molly is a very undemanding little girl that would make a fantastic addition to any home, she is the sweetest most adorable little snuggle bug you will ever meet, all she wants is to curl up with you for cuddles! Do you have room in your home and heart for our beautiful Molly?

Whatever love you give will be returned tenfold by this girl, and if I had room she would be staying here forever because she is just so wonderful. She is flea, wormed, vaccinated, and spayed and micro chipped .

Pansy – 7-8 year old female Cross-Breed

Pansy is a small seven to eight year old female Cross-Breed. This very sweet little girl had been in the Botosani public shelter in Romania for a long time before coming to us and as a result is very shy and wary of new people.

Since arriving in her foster home she has improved and is now more comfortable with people that she knows well stroking her but is not yet approaching and actively asking for contact.

Pansy will need an experienced and patient adopter who is willing to wait for her confidence to grow whilst quietly teaching her not to fear the world around her.

Pansy gets on well with other dog’s and is living happily with a cat in her foster home. She will need a calm and quiet environment with no young children. Pansy fostered Poringland Norfolk.

All dogs are vaccinated, microchipped and neutered (unless the dog is too young to be neutered).

Is Petting the Key to Helping Shelter Dogs Cope?

More than walking them—petting shelter dogs is critical for their well-being
Petting and walking shelter dogs.

Petting dogs is one of the great joys of life! The benefits of this simple yet beautiful action are well-known. For people, it can lower blood pressure and the levels of stress hormones (such as cortisol) and raise the levels of various neurotransmitters that elevate our mood. It’s not a magic pill, but it sure feels like one sometimes.