Want to Live a Longer Life? Get a Dog

iStock.com/Vasyl Dolmatov
iStock.com/Vasyl Dolmatov

If you're contemplating ​getting a dog, recent scientific research provides a great reason why you should go for it. Owning a dog seems to be good for your health. According to a Swedish study published in Scientific Reports in 2017, dog owners have a reduced risk of death compared to non-owners.

The benefits seem to be most significant for people who live by themselves. In single-person households, dog ownership is associated with a 33 percent reduction in mortality risk and an 11 percent reduction in the risk of heart attacks compared to individuals who live alone and don’t have a dog.

Dog ownership doesn't just benefit singles, though. Among multi-person households, the researchers found that having a dog reduced the overall risk of death by 11 percent, and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 15 percent, according to Fox8.

And though researchers found a benefit in dog ownership of all breeds, owners of hunting breeds such as ​retrievers, terriers, and scent hounds showed the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease.

One major caveat with these results is that the study couldn't provide direct evidence that getting a dog causes you to be healthier or prevents cardiovascular disease, just that people who own dogs tend to have lower mortality rates associated with cardiovascular disease. There may be an ancillary reason that dog owners, on the whole, have fewer fatal cardiovascular issues, such as that people who walk their dog every day often get more exercise than the general population. But it could also be that the type of people who get dogs also tend to be healthier for whatever reason.

But if you're on the fence about owning a dog, just know that getting one could be a life-extending decision.

And there are plenty of other benefits that come with owning a dog. Read more about them here.

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


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Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

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