I’ve almost always had dogs in my life. Whether it’s the three we have now or my first who lived for almost eighteen years, I can’t recall too many times when I didn’t live with a dog. In fact, it’s really only the most depressive periods in my life when my residence wasn't shared with a canine companion. My first few years of college, my time running restaurants, and especially those times of pain after the loss of a dog. It think it’s no coincidence that those times in my life when my struggle with depression or anxiety was most prominent were also the times when I wasn’t caring for a pet too.
The term “man’s best friend” didn’t necessarily develop out of the loyalty gained by what the man does for a dog, but by what a dog does for the man. The relationship is not as one-sided as one might think. The emotional value of coming home to a friendly face regardless of how my day went is incalculable. I was woken up this morning by two large dogs and one extra large dog who just couldn't wait another minute for me to pet them, feed them, and play with them. Sure, they’re a little needy sometimes, but who isn’t? I think most people stop there, with the waggin tails and smiling faces, when looking at the positive benefits of pet, specifically dog, ownership. But there’s so much more to it.
Taking care of another living creature helps me remember the importance of taking care of myself. I mean, why do I sometimes pay more attention to the ingredients in my dogs’ meals than my own? Dog ownership also requires a certain level of active participation too. Whether I’m walking them, playing fetch, hitting up the park, I’m moving instead of binge-watching another show on Amazon. I still love The Newsroom, but I don’t need to watch every episode in one sitting.
“What breed is he?” “How old is she?” “Awww, what’s her name?” Dogs invite questions. Dogs invite conversation. Dogs keep me social on a face-to-face level that is sometimes lost in this world of texting, tweeting, and “liking”. Dogs give me the chance to talk to real, live human beings without having to press “0” to speak to an agent.