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Dog best friend for seniors

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A study shows that lonely seniors prefer playing with a dog than visiting with other humans.

Dr. William A. Banks, professor of geriatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine, said his findings, which will be published in the March 2006 issue of Anthrozoos, show there is some truth in the cliche of a dog as "man's best friend."

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"Or at least a less aggravating friend," he said.

Banks found that nursing home residents felt much less lonely after spending time alone with a dog than they did when they visited with a dog and other people.

"It was a strange finding," said Banks. "We had thought that the dog acts as a social lubricant and increases the interaction between the residents. We expected the group dog visits were going to work better, but they didn't."

He said the residents preferred spending a little quiet time with the dog than spending time with a dog and other people.

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