Anyone who has owned a pet can attest to the fact that it is a rewarding, if sometimes challenging, experience. Pet ownership comes with complications and responsibilities, but also with affection and puppy kisses. And we pet owners share the belief that taking care of a pet does wonders for our mood and our personalities. As it turns out, we might not be far off from the truth in that belief. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Science shows that in addition to the health benefits that have long been associated with owning a pet, having a pet in the home can actually have a big impact on a person’s character. According to the study, pet ownership results in an increase in leadership, social engagement, and empathy. Of the 500 people observed in the study, those individuals with pets in their lives were discovered to be more likely to offer assistance to friends, family members, and those that share their community. There are some questions about correlation, of course. Increased empathy in dog owners might not be a result of owning a dog; a person might want to own a dog because that person already has increased empathy toward other living things. Still, the research highlights an interesting commonality in pet owners of all stripes. Taking care of a pet might just help a person to find positivity in their life and find new ways to explore the world.