I’m embarrassed to say that it took me more than half a century to learn to love man’s best friend. But oh I do now….and with a passion and gratitude. If you have an older relative, or lonely friend, get them a companion. A dog would be great, but even a fish would do. It is a great way to focus on the here and now—particularly when that attention is on someone other than your self.
I did not own my first dog until I was almost 60. Why? I hated them. My hatred, though, came from plain, old ignorance. I feared them because I knew nothing about them. In fact, I was SO stupid that the first time I dropped a sock and my pup brought it to me, I was completely amazed. So amazed, that I posted her feat on Facebook and received some 35 comments. One said: “Um, Helen. That’s called ‘fetch.'”
My dog has connected me to all kinds of people: big and small, young and old, every race, color, creed and political bent. She has made me realize that we are all in this together. And, I think we would enjoy the ride more with a pet at our side. Even science has documented proof that dogs increase our lifespan as well as our health:
1. Dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than those without dogs.
2. Petting your dog actually releases oxytocin, a relaxation hormone!
3. Having a pet helps you connect with others.
4. People with pets are generally happier and less lonely.
5. People with pets are less likely to visit the doctor with minor concerns.
Yeah, they are a bit of work, but unlike kids they do NOT bite the hand that feeds them. Instead? They lick it. You can be gone for five minutes or five days but upon your return, you will be greeted with a tail-wagging excitement unlike any other. They know when you are happy or sad or sick and will stay close to you through all of those moments.
Now, I brush my pup every night before bed. I even brush her teeth with an extra electric toothbrush head. 50 times on each side. Silly? Maybe. I just want to keep her molars clean so that she can live a long and healthy life …..right by my side.