When science and love come together.
The canines are our loyal allies and friends. They have protected us, hunted with us, and add to our overall heath with their symbiotic companionship and we often feel they are a part of us.
The Norse mythology of Garmr describes a dog that stands at the gates of the underworld and will only howl if the end of the world is near. And as in Rudyard Kiplings stories and evidenced by history, it seems Dog made an agreement with humans at one point to protect and hunt in exchange for food and a place by the fire.
The friendly bacteria of our gut offer similar qualities. They are the “gatekeepers” of our digestive tract. Working in partnership with us, they protect us from the “bad bacterias” by occupying space and preventing overgrowth of immune invaders. Bacteria actually comprise a large part of our physical makeup. They ARE a part of us. If we feed them, (prebiotics) they work hard for us to keep us healthy and safe while occupying a beneficial environment for their own lifecycle.
Probiotics (the beneficial bacteria of our gut) even have an impact on brain health. With such a strong connection between the gut and the brain they can balance moods and improve our focus and concentration. And of course, all dog lovers would agree that dogs have a profoundly positive affect on the state of our brains.
Studies have shown that children raised in homes with dogs have a more diverse gut bacteria, a key to a healthy gut, which improves our overall immunity and allergic responses. These children have lower cases of asthma as well.
The adults found living with dogs share a similar diversity of skin microbiota profile as the dogs and the other family members.
This bacterial spreading capacity of dogs can be an important mechanism for diversifying our microbiomes in a world that has become increasingly obsessed with sterile environments.
So as the quote says, dogs are not the whole picture, but they certainly do make the picture whole.