UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The significance of companion dogs in the everyday lives of their human caregivers Maharaj, Nandini Sharada


Using a qualitative design, the purpose of the study was to examine how people describe their relationship with their dog and what kinds of things they do that suggest this bond represents a meaningful relationship. Dog owners (N=27) aged 19 years and older were invited to participate in a focus group discussion. Seven groups were conducted. Employing the steps that Krueger and Casey (2009) recommend, a thematic content analysis revealed the presence of 9 themes: Part of the Family, We Do as We’re Told, Dogs Know, Natural Healers, Nothing Like What a Dog Can Do, My Dog Includes Me, I’m the Alpha Dog, Dog People Are a Rare Breed, and Through Their Eyes. These themes are discussed in light of the current research in the field. The findings suggest some implications for counselling research and practice in improving the health and well-being of dog owners and admirers, as well as, some avenues for further exploration.

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