By Emma Purce
Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend, and the bond between humans and dogs is unmistakable.
Since their domestication 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, dogs have helped humans by hunting, keeping away pests, guarding homes, serving with the military and police, assisting the disabled, and perhaps their biggest and most important job, being faithful companions.
Numerous studies have proven that having a furry friend in a household can reduce stress and the chances of cardiovascular disease, among other physical and mental benefits. Donna Lynd, a Licensed Veterinary Technician who also trains service dogs, agrees that dogs can be an essential member of the family.
“They’re always there and they want to please you, and they don’t judge you,” Lynd said. “They’re just good companions.”
Joy Strickland, Director of Counseling at MPH, is a big proponent of therapy dogs in school, due to dogs’ positive impact on both mental and physical health. Strickland says that dogs can help make bad days better.
“Your day could be total hell,” Strickland said. “I hate everyone, but my dog still loves me? Okay, that’s a good day.”
According to a study of dog-human relationships from an evolutionary perspective conducted by John Archer of the University of Central Lancashire, about 40 percent of owners identify their dog as a family member.
Zoé was not only a family member to her owner, Alex Leclercq, but she became an important member of the MPH community through all her years of visiting. Whether she was simply sitting in class while Leclercq taught, wandering the halls or sitting with a student who needed some “Zoé time,” she became a well-recognized furry face at MPH. Potential students who visited MPH on Fridays were often shocked to see a dog wandering the hallways alone, and even more shocked by the lack of a reaction shown by students.
Zoé was often seen hanging out in the hallways, surrounded by kids vying for her attention. Strickland remembers one Halloween when Zoé sat on the table outside of the Student Lounge completely surrounded by children.
“ [Zoé] just made [the kids] feel comfortable, they just felt at ease,” Strickland said. “I think Zoé was just this calm, loyal, dependable and just calm presence. You never know what you’re gonna get from an adult, or a classmate, but Zoé? You know. Kind of predictable. You knew what you were gonna get.”
That verdict was certainly correct. All anyone ever got from Zoé was unconditional love and affection, and her presence at MPH will be felt for years to come.