We wholeheartedly subscribe to the philosophy espoused by Nobel Prize-winning author Anatole France that, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” As to the more granular debate of which furry creatures make the best companions, most typically reduced to a dialogue of dogs versus cats, we have an opinion, but will remain circumspect.

We will, however, offer that no less than the CDC has recently stipulated – backed by actual research – that dog ownership, in particular, among children is positively correlated with indicators of good mental and physical health. It has been previously documented that pet ownership can carry with it physiological benefits related to emotional wellbeing, potentially contributing to lower breathing rates and blood pressure, diminished anxiety, and even an increase in measurable oxytocin, a biomarker related to emotional bonding and trust.

PAWS Assistance Dogs, the wonderful local charity partner of the annual Third on Canvas art event, trains and donates service dogs to disabled veterans and children in Southwest Florida, providing crucial day-to-day help. More globally, having a pet can alleviate loneliness, both via the bond with the animal directly, and by facilitating interactions with other people. Intrigued but would rather test out dog ownership before jumping in with all four legs? Not to worry, there’s an app for that.