For years, I've been a huge fan of shelter dog adoption, because when you adopt from an animal shelter, you save a life. But what I didn't realize until recently is that when you adopt a dog, the life you save is your own.
There's plenty of scientific evidence to prove that dogs are good for human health. They reduce our blood pressure and raise our levels of oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone"; they boost cardiovascular health by taking us out for regular walks. Think of dogs as health coaches, motivating us to perform the heart-healthiest exercise known to man -- walking -- three times daily. Dogs also lift our mood and lower our stress; they alert to attacks of anaphylaxis and asthma; their exquisite sense of smell can detect cancer or dangerous dips in blood sugar.
But dogs offer another life-saving health benefit that's under-reported. They are medical sentinels, which is why I call them Medicine Dogs. When you share your life with a dog, you interface with a veterinarian on a regular basis. And right now, in the United States, veterinary medicine is ahead of human medicine. Which means that, if you have a dog and you take him or her for routine vet check-ups, you're exposing yourself to the most sophisticated health care options that currently exist, for man or beast -- options your MD might not even know about, yet. And that might just save your life. This is exactly what happened to me: My Medicine Dog saved my life by leading me to adult stem cell therapy.