The majority of contemporary dog owners describe their pet as part of the family,[146] although some ambivalence about the relationship is evident in the popular reconceptualization of the dog–human family as a pack.[146] A dominance model of dog–human relationships has been promoted by some dog trainers, such as on the television program Dog Whisperer. However it has been disputed that "trying to achieve status" is characteristic of dog–human interactions.[150] Pet dogs play an active role in family life; for example, a study of conversations in dog–human families showed how family members use the dog as a resource, talking to the dog, or talking through the dog, to mediate their interactions with each other.[151]
A 2005 paper states "recent research has failed to support earlier findings that pet ownership is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a reduced use of general practitioner services, or any psychological or physical benefits on health for community dwelling older people. Research has, however, pointed to significantly less absenteeism from school through sickness among children who live with pets."[191] In one study, new guardians reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in those with dogs through to the end of the study.[195]
^ Wood, Lisa; Martin, Karen; Christian, Hayley; Nathan, Andrea; Lauritsen, Claire; Houghton, Steve; Kawachi, Ichiro; McCune, Sandra (2015). "The Pet Factor – Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support". PLoS ONE. 10 (4): e0122085. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1022085W. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122085. PMC 4414420. PMID 25924013.
Neutering reduces problems caused by hypersexuality, especially in male dogs.[76] Spayed female dogs are less likely to develop some forms of cancer, affecting mammary glands, ovaries, and other reproductive organs.[77] However, neutering increases the risk of urinary incontinence in female dogs,[78] and prostate cancer in males,[79] as well as osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, cruciate ligament rupture, obesity, and diabetes mellitus in either sex.[80]

The practice of using dogs and other animals as a part of therapy dates back to the late 18th century, when animals were introduced into mental institutions to help socialize patients with mental disorders.[201] Animal-assisted intervention research has shown that animal-assisted therapy with a dog can increase social behaviors, such as smiling and laughing, among people with Alzheimer's disease.[202] One study demonstrated that children with ADHD and conduct disorders who participated in an education program with dogs and other animals showed increased attendance, increased knowledge and skill objectives, and decreased antisocial and violent behavior compared with those who were not in an animal-assisted program.[203]
Domestic dogs have been selectively bred for millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.[17] Modern dog breeds show more variation in size, appearance, and behavior than any other domestic animal.[17] Dogs are predators and scavengers, and like many other predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, fused wrist bones, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching and tearing.

In addition, people with pet dogs took considerably more physical exercise than those with cats and those without pets. The results provide evidence that keeping pets may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that for guardians of dogs these effects are relatively long-term.[195] Pet guardianship has also been associated with increased coronary artery disease survival, with human guardians being significantly less likely to die within one year of an acute myocardial infarction than those who did not own dogs.[196]
"I like to give my clients options, options that give them more of a comfortable feeling when trusting there beloved pet in the hands of a complete stranger. My dog was a rescue, she felt more comfortable at home or with me than anything else. Being in someone's home with out me present or being caged would sky rocket her anxiety through the roof. Many pet owners can agree that a pet is not just a pet but like an actual part of the family. For pet owners that have pets such as mine I do like to provide them the option of in home services to ensure there pets are as comfortable as possible while they are away. Services provided include walking, daily meals, bathing, medication administration, house/pet sitting, in home boarding, boarding in my own home, lots of fun and play time as well. Whatever your comfortable with it can be provided. Animal care has been my passion sense I was a little girl. Taking care of animals is not just a way to earn a quick buck for me, I actually enjoy it."
In Christianity, dogs represent faithfulness.[208] Within the Roman Catholic denomination specifically, the iconography of Saint Dominic includes a dog, after the hallow's mother dreamt of a dog springing from her womb and becoming pregnant shortly thereafter.[214] As such, the Dominican Order (Ecclesiastical Latin: Dominicanus) means "dogs of the Lord" or "hounds of the Lord" (Ecclesiastical Latin: domini canis).[214] In Christian folklore, a church grim often takes the form of a black dog to guard Christian churches and their churchyards from sacrilege.[215]
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  • In conformation shows, also referred to as breed shows, a judge familiar with the specific dog breed evaluates individual purebred dogs for conformity with their established breed type as described in the breed standard. As the breed standard only deals with the externally observable qualities of the dog (such as appearance, movement, and temperament), separately tested qualities (such as ability or health) are not part of the judging in conformation shows.
    Cultural depictions of dogs in art extend back thousands of years to when dogs were portrayed on the walls of caves. Representations of dogs became more elaborate as individual breeds evolved and the relationships between human and canine developed. Hunting scenes were popular in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Dogs were depicted to symbolize guidance, protection, loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, watchfulness, and love.[219]
    

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