Jennifer Arnold is the founder of Canine Assistants and author of Through a Dog’s Eyes. Since 1996 Delta has been the airline partner of Canine Assistants, providing travel for recipients and their service dogs. Canine Assistants is a designated organization of the Delta SkyWish program, allowing Delta travelers to donate their skymiles directly to Canine Assistants and other worthy organizations. This partnership has helped change the lives of so many in need. Photo credit David C. Scott.
For the past twenty years, I have been a frequent flyer. I don’t fly alone. On nearly every trip, a dog has accompanied me. Taking young service dogs-in-training on overnight trips can be more than a little stressful. Will the dog behave well? Will people be kind about seeing a dog in public? No matter how far away from Atlanta my trips take me, I feel like I’m home when I get to the Delta kiosk. I know Delta employees will help me sort out anything that might go wrong. Delta gate agents have helped me find little strips of grass or pine straw when my canine cohorts needed an emergency restroom from Newark to Los Angeles. Flight attendants have rearranged seating so that all the passengers, dog included, could be comfortably seated. I even had a Delta pilot carry a dog with a serious leg injury all the way through the Atlanta airport and to my car. With kindness like that, you can see why I am proud to say the Delta is the Official Airline of Canine Assistants!
Knowing that Delta has my back when I travel leaves me free to focus on my favorite subject…dogs!
My husband, who is also the staff veterinarian for Canine Assistants, sent me an email today containing a link to a report just published in an animal behavior journal that said scientists have found that aggressive dogs may actually be suffering from depression. The researchers found that aggressive dogs have consistently lower levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, and higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol than nonaggressive dogs. Know what else researchers have found? Sweet, laid-back dogs actually live longer than dogs who are more intense in personality.
Wow. That sounds an awful lot like another species I know…human beings. Stress does horrible things to our health and our behavior. Know what can elevate your serotonin levels while lower your levels of stress hormones like cortisol? Patting a dog. Know what can elevate your dog’s serotonin levels and lower his cortisol levels? Being petted by you. So, for the sake of your health and your dog’s, petting is a must!
If you want to learn more about the wonderful creatures we call man’s best friend, please pick up a copy of my book, Through a Dog’s Eyes, at your favorite bookseller and, on your next Delta flight, tune in to the PBS special by the same name.
Read an excerpt from Through a Dog’s Eyes.