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How Dogs are the Ultimate Companions

by Cassidy Gillard

Many people believe that dogs are a person’s best friend, and at the ranch this theory is strongly supported. Having a bunch of dogs running around playing, snuggling up to kids when they don’t feel well, and showing off their silly personalities is a luxury we feel very lucky to have. Our dogs are able to offer comfort to kids who may be struggling to have successful interactions with other kids, and excitement to kids who don’t get to spend a lot of time around dogs.

Our dogs have a certain level of attachment to the people who are around them consistently, however the companionship that dogs offer in general is beautiful, and I love watching the bonds that people form with the dogs throughout the summer.

First of all, every dog has their own unique personality. There is something about each of them that is different from the rest, and each person forms a different connection with each dog. Some of them like to be snuggled and pet, and some of them like their space and require a certain level of gentleness before they are able to connect with a person. Some of them sneak around trying to find little snacks, and some of them lie peacefully by the door watching their favorite person, making sure they don’t get left behind when their human leaves the room. Some of them will lie with you on the floor and allow you to get a little dose of oxytocin while you tell them about your day. Which brings another important point.

Oxytocin is a hormone that is released when you get a hug, or have someone rub your back, or lay with someone. Oxytocin is also released when you get a cuddle from a dog. You can lay with a dog and actually have chemicals release that will make you feel better. So it’s not just about relaxing or petting a nice soft pup, there’s an actual feel-good effect. You can get this from human contact as well, but sometimes, especially at camp when kids or staff members may be feeling sad to be away from home, it’s hard to open up to unfamiliar people. Having a companion who expects nothing other than some snuggles is a really comforting, empowering feeling, and often a few moments petting a dog can turn a mood around.