It’s a simple question, and not one meant to offend. For a long time, we thought that we could find every dog that was just as good with children as it was with people. But then, our research uncovered another surprising trend: the majority of a dog’s care may be done by its human companion. And we’ve discovered that these humans are our greatest benefactors.
The question has puzzled me for years, and it continues to amaze me all these years later. People say to me, “No, that’s a dog’s job.” That’s great, but what about when someone who is just learning to walk a dog, or an elderly person with a disability is taking care of the dog? How can I make this decision for a family of four?
How do you decide which animal should be the dog, or just the companion? The answer is very complicated–it depends on a lot of factors. There are dogs that are very difficult, and even impossible for other people to meet, but I would say all dogs are capable of being good humans. There are some that are impossible to treat for, but we are able to find those dogs for human companions through social work.
But when it comes to an animal that requires care very much of its own, then what are we to do? We have to look at what the person needs, and what the dog can do for them. I think that in general, a dog is more of a caretaker than a companion. And what do you get in return? First, you get the unconditional love you can only think of if you’ve worked with that person yourself, and secondly, you gain perspective that you don’t get if you’re focusing on all the problems, and worrying all the time, instead of giving them your attention. And you gain perspective that a dog can make a difference in a lot of people’s lives. Sometimes it feels easy, and sometimes it feels hard, and I think that is what makes it so much meaningful.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
The number of homeless on the Seattle-Tacoma Metro is set to increase in 2017, according to data from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services released at the end of 2016. The numbers show that the estimated total number of people on the streets nationwide is rising by 1.8 percent from 2015, though this number is likely to fluctuate somewhat year to year in some regions.
The report, published Wednesday,
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