Pets love can be the Best Medicine! Why don’t you love me like my dog?
Most of my life there has been one common thread and that is, for a good part of those years, I’ve owned a pet.
From my childhood days growing up in Kailua, Oahu I had everything from tropical fish to parakeets, to hamsters and rabbits.
My adult years have been spent with a couple of cats and many dogs.
Pets, of course, bring with it a host of health benefits for us which include reduced blood pressure and reducing our risk of heart disease.
Recently I read an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found pet owners who consider their pets to be best friends lead more fulfilling lives, both psychologically and physically.
A British study of 5,000 people found that the average dog owner had more exercise than those who didn’t own dogs.
The reason being the dog owners walked their dog, on average for eight hours per week, while half of those in the study who didn’t own a dog spent 80 minutes a week exercising and the other half didn’t exercise at all.
There is something special for those of us that love our pets and are responsible enough to get outside each day and provide what our dogs need, exercise.
For the past five years a group of dog lovers have organized an event in Hawaiian Paradise Park called, “Howling Holidays.”
One of those that have brainstormed the idea and consistently hosted the Howling Holidays event is Annie Svaty.
“We wanted to promote pet ownership and give something back to the Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary,” Svaty said.
The event, which will be held at the HPP Activity Center on Makuu and 17th Street, provides a wide variety of activities geared to have family fun around a holiday setting.
“We’ll have agility and search and rescue demonstrations, and a one or two mile fundraising dog run or walk which benefits the Rainbow Friends.” Svaty said.
People are encouraged to participate with their dogs, on a leash, in the social one mile or two mile walk or the competitive two mile run.
“There is an entry fee for the walk or run of $10 for the first dog and $2.50 for each additional dog and all the money goes to the Rainbow Friends,” Svaty said.
Besides those two events, just about everything else, except food and the silent auction, is free, according to Svaty.
“We’ll have a vet on hand where you can get information on your pet or ask the Rainbow Friends about their adoption policy,” Svaty said.
Svaty and her group will be giving away prizes for the most original doggie costume, and Santa will be on hand so that pet owners can take a free photo.
“It is so nice to go to an event where your best friend is included and you can have fun together,” Svaty said. “I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to share a morning of fun with their dog and it is also an opportunity to have fun while raising money for a great cause.”
Svaty owns two dogs and both have been rescued by her with her latest coming from the Keaau Transfer Station.
“I picked up a dog that I named Rumi, who is around 10 years old, that had a broken leg and heart worm,” Svaty said. “There are some creatures that grab your heart before you have a chance to think and there is nothing better than a dog as they love you no matter what.”
Svaty’s other dog is named LG and came from an abandoned home.
“LG and another dog were just left behind,” she said. “He was so ugly and skinny that I thought no one would take him. He’s grown to be a very handsome boy.”
Svaty’s love for dogs has prompted her to host the Howling Holidays event year after year and last year she created another event geared at the runners and joggers in our community.
Many other things will be going on that morning, but Svaty is hopeful that the one or two mile run with your dog will be successful.
“We tried the two mile run last year for the first time and we only had two entries,” she said. “We’re hoping more dog owners will come out with their dog (s) and give the flat course on 16th Street a try.”
Svaty broke her ankle in April and says that it was her dogs that inspired her to exercise and heal.
“When I was finally able to get around the first thing I did was start walking with my dogs,” Svaty said. “It’s their favorite part of the day for them and for me.”
There is a definite health connection between owning a dog as the bond between owner and creature that blooms is advantageous to both.
“The more I do with my dog the greater the connection and the more I appreciate the relationship,” Svaty said. “Running with a dog partner makes getting out and exercising fun and it helps me stick to running. To say no to a creature that looks up at you with big eyes is almost impossible. My dog is always there, wagging his tail, willing to go with me anywhere and as far as I would like to go. He’s ready at a minutes’ notice.”
So, if you are inspired to come for a walk or jog with your dog on Sunday, December 11 or if you need more information on the event, give Svaty a call at 989-3404 or email her at email@example.com.
And someday should you happen to see an animal lover come jogging through Keaau remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org. Big Dog Note: “Why don’t you love me like my dog?” in the title of this story is a popular Country Music song and a personal favorite of the Big Dog!