Pets and happiness

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August 15, 2011 — Pets make us happy and healthy, right? Plenty of studies claim that owning pets is beneficial to our physical and mental health. But is that true, or do we just love the idea? New research finds that pet owners are no better off. Still we study the bonds between us and our four legged friends in order to further our understanding of human emotions. Dr. Dan Gottlieb discusses conflicting data around pet ownership. We also hear some heartwarming stories about the roles of service dogs and therapy dogs.

Dan’s guests include Allen McConnell, Ph.D., Harold Herzog, Ph.D. and Saralee Perel. Dr. McConnell is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami. He has co-authoredFriends With Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership, published online last month in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Herzog teaches psychology at Western Carolina University. He’s written Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, now out in paperback. His article The Impact of Pets on Human Health and Psychological Well-Being: Fact, Fiction, or Hypothesis? is published in this month’s Current Directions in Psychological Science.

And Saralee Perel is a nationally syndicated award-winning columnist whose dog amazing Gracie became her 24/7 caregiver after she suffered an inexplicable spinal cord injury. Gracie now provides happiness and hope to thousands via her Facebook Fan Page.

Photo by Flickr user Ronn aka “Blue” Aldaman

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