A new study conducted by University Hospital in Finland tells us that children who grow up in households that have dogs as pets have fewer respiratory illnesses than those who grow up without dogs. Happily, the science here was specific to point out just how these children were healthier. I can say from experience that my son has probably come up just about even on the overall health score when it comes to sharing close quarters with a family canine. For instance, he would probably like to have back that tumble he took from the front porch when our dog went charging out the front door to be part of whatever action was taking place and effectively bounced our toddler in pinwheel fashion down the front stairs. There are those who would argue that it was as much a function of his father's inattention that he took this unscheduled trip, but all physical evidence points to the hard head and enthusiasm of our dog.
Sanitation is another area in which the benefits may have been on a par with the burdens. We saved a fortune on napkins for our little boy, who would simply drop his hands down to his side after he was finished eating, and the dog would do her best to make sure that they were scrubbed clean. As clean as the tongue of a dog can be, which is still a matter of some debate. I'm guessing that the doctors in Finland were probably basing their findings on the Finnish Spitz, mostly because it's one of the silliest names for a dog I have ever encountered.
And aside from the whole easy-breathing thing, there's the best friend thing that shouldn't be overlooked, unless your best friend just ate the last cupcake. He or she is probably just looking out for your health.