When people visit my house, they are greeted by two big, loving, and somewhat well-mannered dogs. It’s a greeting they won’t soon forget. And I, for one, wouldn’t give it up for anything. (Ok, maybe the jumping, but we’re working on that!)
I have shared my life with many dogs. My love for dogs began at a young age. We had small dogs growing up who I cared for and played with for hours on end. During my teenage years, my dog and I had many long-winded, one-sided conversations hanging out in my room. I told him things I would never dare tell anyone else. And he just sat there and listened. No judgment, just love.
At one time, I’m sure my family thought I’d never have kids, only dogs. But I figured I was up for a household where I could have both. I see my kids with our dogs and I know they feel how I did growing up: unconditional love, safety, and a sense of responsibility. My son, for example, has a very special bond with our chocolate lab, Roman. Roman sleeps in his room at night and chases away the “boogie man.” Roman listens to him when he’s having a bad day. Roman goes outside and runs around with my son when they both have energy to burn. Their relationship is amazing, and I can see the benefits clearly.
Whether you’re a dog person or an animal person at all, no one can deny that pets have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being. Studies have widely acknowledged that petting animals can have a calming effect, lower blood pressure, and relieve tension. Dogs in particular help in a wide variety of settings to provide physical and emotional support to those in hospitals, nursing homes, daycares, and even to soldiers (in fact, check out how dogs are helping U.S. military veterans deal with PTSD on this great new A&E show). A more recent trend in dog therapy is underway in children with autism. The thought being that a companion animal with an autistic child can provide a sense of safety, predictability, and reduce tension and frustration in social settings. Dogs also force you to be active. They need exercise and so do you. Dog walkers in general will walk farther and longer than those without dogs. Overall, I believe having dogs can make you a better person.
Dogs bring many positive aspects to our household. And yes, they drive me crazy sometimes. But in all honesty, I’m happier and healthier because they are a part of my life.