Based on a select group in Britain, it was discovered that 95 percent of dog owners strongly felt that “interacting with their dog made them happier,” according to the Dogs Trust survey. Animal Assisted Therapy, or AAT, was used to determine the effects on children with autism spectrum disorders as seen in the reports of Maggie O’Haire of Purdue University. The children, as a whole, improved 27 of the 30 results that were identified.

A study conducted by UCLA discovered some more of the benefits of AAT. “Petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response; it also releases serotonin; assists in the recollection of memories; it can provide an escape; or even a happy distraction.” In another test, researchers found that the anxiety level dramatically dropped by 24 percent when the subjects were introduced to only 12 minutes with the Therapy Dogs.

Therapy dogs are not just for the blind or epileptic

Therapy dogs aide in the treatment of stress, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and even depression. The notion that dogs provide a mental benefit is not new. Just the act of petting or grooming the dog can provide comfort and relaxation for the mental crisis that is taking place at the moment.

In this article, I want to demonstrate to you how my experiences with my dogs have brought me health benefits such as relaxation and a lowered heart rate. You may just be surprised.

My bipolar experience with my two dogs

There’s something cathartic about having a dog. They may not cure bipolar, but that precious bundle of fur just cured me of my tears for the past 15 minutes.

Jake, is my Dachshund/Beagle mix and Sam (short for Samantha), is the Lab/Shepherd mix. Those two are the highlights of my day. They lay beside me while I hammer away on my laptop when I am sitting on the sofa. Jake will get so close to me that he practically burrows into my side. I love those two dogs so much. And they make me feel so loved, too.

Dogs can sense when humans are not feeling well

Sam is more of a nurse than Jake is. I cannot recall the many times I have cried (gently or out-of-control), because of my Mental illness and Sam comes to me to comfort me. It is as if her mothering instincts turn on and she gets to work taking care of me. She licks my face. She lets me pet her all over.

I love to kiss on her, too. I will never trade my therapy dog time with Sam for a doctor’s visit or psychologist’s visit or a pill.

After my time with Sam or Jake, I feel calmer. My head is not as convoluted. I feel a sense of peace and love.

Walking the dog does make you feel better

There have been so many days when I felt depressed or in a bad mood. When you are bipolar it is difficult to control your moods. My husband might suggest that I walk the dogs. At first, I am pissed because I just want to sit and sulk. But once I open that door and have a dog at the end of the lead, my mental illness demeanor gets so much better. I don’t know if it is so much the exercise or just getting a different perspective on things.

You are never alone

I am home alone most of the day since I work from my home office. All the while, my husband, and my other friends have 9-5 traditional jobs. I cannot always pick up the phone and call a friend to cry on her shoulder because I feel depressed or my mind is racing a mile a second.

My dogs keep me company through the thick and the thin. With them either by my side or at my feet, I never have to feel lonely.

Laughter is the best medicine

These two little balls of fur can make me go from a giggle to an all-out laugh. I like to pet them and watch the response. Sam loves to have her belly and her chest rubbed. You would think I was giving her the most out-of-this-world massage. She moves under my hands in raucous delight.

All you need is love

You do not have to have a certified therapy dog. Though to take the dog out into the public you do need he/she certified.

I have said it time and time again that I have felt so much love from those fur balls for my mental illness. There are days when I do not want to leave the house. I curl up with Jake and Sam on the couch and the yuck fades away.