Today is National Smile Day. And nothing will make you smile as much as a dog. And having two?
Yesterday these dogs are fighting over the tug-o-war toy I stupidly bought on Thursday. Neither wanted to share or actually play with it the right way. They had totally destroyed the previous toy by playing with it like to normal dogs would play with it so they knew the concept. You’d think. It’s like there were no other toys in the entire house.
So I’m trying to work and I hear utter chaos from the other room. My mom’s voice kicked in. You know, the one where you think things and they come out sounding exactly like your mom’s voice? “You guys are this close to losing this toy forever.”
Mele gave Coconut a little nip and I heard something like everyone who has ever had a parent in any country in the world ever hears as Coconut yelped. “Keep that up and I will give you something to cry about.”
I keep waiting for one of them to say, “Mom, make him stop looking at me!”
Seriously, two toddlers in the house taunting each other. Mele is fierce and steals everything and she’s small enough to camp out under the coffee table. Coconut just comes to me and looks me in the face with this expression of frustration.
And then I laughed.
Smiling, laughing, feeling like you are a dog mom in all the most challenging ways dogs will make you a better person and they will increase your life. No, really.
Happiness is what makes us smile; how can the reverse also be true? The fact is, as Dr. Isha Gupta a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine explains a smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.”
So smiling can trick your brain into thinking you are happy and can spur feelings of happiness. And guess what else? Studies have shown over and over again that depression weakens your immune system, while happiness, on the other hand, has been shown to boost our body’s resistance. And who doesn’t need a daily dose of immunity? The brain is an amazing thing. It doesn’t know the difference between the fake smile you just did reading my story or the real one followed by the guffaw because you’ve lived this scenario so many times in your dog-owning life. Whether you are doing the fake-it-till-you-make-it smile or a joyful grin that about stretches your face into another shape a force will legitimately reduce stress and lower your heart rate.
I think I have just proven my case on smiling. Now here’s the really good part. You don’t have to look long to find a reason to smile. Not only do we have thirty-four dogs who are desperately wishing for homes so they could make you smile but we have a transport of new dogs arriving today!
The weather is perfect, school is finally out or almost out so you can find a dog that will make you smile.
Oh, here are the two miscreant toddlers several hours after the play day. And here’s the evil toy.
Today’s a new day. Time to smile!