Laughter Is the Best Medicine
I grin…a lot. Even when I am naughty. I am “the food bowl is half full” kind of a guy. Now I must admit, that not all my pack members share the same outlook. Thunderbear, the Zen Master, approaches life as, “I will have to meditate on the reality of the food bowl.” Buckaroo is more fundamental saying, “There is no life without my food bowl.” Crockett’s attitude is the slightly panicked one with, “my food bowl might be half empty?” Wookie, the queen bee, says, “if the food bowl is half empty, I’ll eat some of yours.”
I doubt most humans know this, but their laughter is music to our ears. It makes us happy, sometimes silly, and it gets the endorphins pumping. We read faces, so to see a smile and to hear a chuckle is the dog equivalent of humans eating good chocolate.
My human sometimes loses her sense of humor. Buckaroo says her sense of humor is probably in the recesses of the couch, along with several of his dog toys. Crockett says it is because she reads various newspapers and it makes her cranky. Thunderbear says it is because she does not leave her phone on mute enough. Wookie’s observation is that our human runs a fine establishment for dogs and that alone is stressful. Personally, I think my human loses her sense of humor because she feels powerless.
The irony is when humans smile, laugh, giggle, chortle, guffaw…letting loose with the laughter can stimulate circulation, aid muscle relaxation, and over the long term improve the immune system, relieve pain, improve mood and increase beneficial brain chemicals.
Laughter is good medicine for dogs and humans.
Vulcan mind melds
OK, dogs don’t really have Vulcan telepathy and we are not capable of mind melds like Mr. Spock. However, we do have an uncanny sense of reading our human’s thoughts and feelings, as well as share our own. I like to call this the power of canine suggestion. This is done by looking deep into my human’s eyes and giving a soft whimper. If more persuasion is needed then I nudge her with my nose or bark and toss my head. Unfortunately the more humans focus on their smartphones and computer screens, the less able we are to connect with them.
Canine suggestion comes in handy when it comes to lifting our human’s mood via other influences, like television or music. If my human’s cell phone is off, I can clearly voice my choices which are sure to get the laughter out of her: Seinfeld, Frasier, Saturday Night Live, and anything Pixar. Buckaroo prefers Looney Tunes, Ghostbusters, and Animal House. Thunderbear chooses anything Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Young Frankenstein. Crockett leans towards Best in Show, Bringing Up Baby, and The Big Bang Theory. Wookie prefers The Princess Bride, Despicable Me, and Miss Congeniality.
Sometimes I can suggest to her YouTube videos such as interviews with Robin Williams (his appearances on the Tonight Show can really get her laughing) or the funny pet commercials like Freshpet Holiday feast or the infamous Simon’s Cat.
Musical suggestions include old Tom Lehrer’s songs: Pollution, Who’s Next, and Wernher Von Braun or a few of Allan Sherman’s classics: Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder, Hungarian Goulash and the never-fail-to-get-her-giggly Broadway show music from Spamalot.
There are times we dogs must apply our comedic abilities to rouse a human from their seriousness. This can include swan diving off or on the couch, broad-jumping over the coffee table, biting the vacuum cleaner monster, stealing BioStar cookies from the feed room. One enterprising Pomeranian managed to consume almost a full bag of Equilibrium bars (BioStar’s equine calming supplement) and then was rather mellow the rest of the day.
Canine Tag You’re It, is a popular game in our pack and it generally rouses our human out of her doldrums. However, it has less than the desired effect when we try to play it in the house.
I enjoy Grab The Shoe. This entails me slyly absconding with one of my human’s shoes, carrying it around in my mouth so that it gets kind of slimy and then sneaking outside with it to leave in my treasure trove of old chewed-up tennis balls, marrow bones, and sticks. My human generally laughs when I do this, the exception being when she finds her shoe out among my beloved treasures in the pouring rain.
Making the world a better place
We dogs know the human world is a crazy place, and we also recognize that our wagging tails, or in my case wagging butt, can bring a smile to our humans. Although I recommend that my human go around wagging her butt in happiness, that’s probably unrealistic. I do think, however, that if humans would seek to laugh and smile more, the world would be a better place. Laughter really is the best medicine.