In her New York Times "Personal Health" column, writer Jane Brody covers everything from medical conditions to nutrition advice to safety tips. But this week, she focused on a lesser discussed topic in mainstream media that we at WOOFipedia are all too familiar with—the physiological and psychological benefits of owning a dog. Brody explained that she made the decision to bring home a Havenese puppy, whom she named Max II, four years after her husband passed away. A canine companion, she thought, could help alleviate the loneliness. Well, that part she got right, but what she didn't expect was the social interaction she'd get from other people as well:

"But perhaps the most interesting (and unpremeditated) benefit has been the scores of people I’ve met on the street, both with and without dogs, who stop to admire him and talk to me. Max has definitely increased my interpersonal contacts and enhanced my social life. People often thank me for letting them pet my dog. Max, in turn, showers them with affection."

She went on to detail a slew of benefits from owning a dog, offering statistics and studies that showed that dog owners laughed more often than those with other pets or no pets and had better cardiovascular health, less stress, and in children, lower rates of asthma and eczema.

Whether Brody reaps all of these benefits is yet to be seen, but as she eloquently puts it below, her relationship with her dog has helped her in more ways than she imagined:

"I can’t yet say that Max II has reduced my anxiety. I remain ever alert to his need to head outside and his attempts to chew or tear up anything he can reach. But there is no question that I am thrilled by his antics, endearing personality, unconditional love (even when I yell no), and the many connections he’s fostered with both acquaintances and strangers."

Read her full column here.

Also, read about some of the surprising truths we've learned from living with dogs.