Some of my favorite “people” have had four legs. We were away for five days and haven’t yet picked up our dog Monet from the kennel today, so I was thinking how much I miss her. Even though she’s ten or eleven years old, she still brings a childlike joy to our home.
We recently lost her lifelong companion Chili to kidney failure and we see how the loss has affected Monet. She isn’t as vocal as she was before. She hides behind furniture when there is loud noise in the house, like when we were having work done in the kitchen. I think she took her behavior cues from Chili so she barked when Chili told her it was appropriate to do so. She would wait outside the back door when we put them out until Chili ran ahead and she would follow. Now she goes out, takes care of business and then comes to sit by the door to wait to be let in. Chili was the one who told us it was time to let them in by being the one to bark at the door. Now we have to remember that Monet is outside, which we sometimes don’t realize for an hour or so.
Besides bringing the aforementioned joy to a home, dogs and other pets do a lot more for you. They give you unconditional love, and who couldn’t use a lot more of that? In a world that can sometimes be a little cruel and uncaring, coming home to the happy reception you receive from the pet that loves you can be soul shifting and uplifting.
You are less likely to be lonely. Having pets can bring opportunities for social interactions with other pet people or just people you meet on your walks. For introverts, being around people can be exhausting after a while. Coming home to a pet can be re-energizing. The pet has no expectations of you and is always happy to see you.
There are also many physical health benefits to living with a pet. Pet people often get more exercise, especially dog people. Walking or playing with the dog helps both of you. You will bond with the pet more fully which is emotionally satisfying but you will also enjoy the obvious fitness boost that walking and running around will bring. Other benefits are a decrease in blood pressure, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
I’ve had dogs off and on since I was a kid. They can be annoying when all they want to do is be near you, as my Chili did. But now that she’s gone, I miss her company. She was a sweet and loving dog. We still have Monet, who also is a sweet and loving dog but each dog brings something different to the home. I have never been a cat person. That doesn’t mean I don’t like cats, I just prefer dogs so my frame of reference is that of one who has been owned by dogs.
Whether you are a dog person, cat person or other type of pet person, living with a pet can give you a more fulfilling life and a deeper connection to another living being that you might not otherwise have. Don’t underestimate the power of that connection.
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My first dog (as an adult) was Rainier, or Rainey for short. I tell people he was half terrier and half angel. He saved my life on our cross-country drive (Seattle to Orlando in 3 days). When I started nodding off, he'd lick my face and convince me it was time to pull over for a while. He also ate a pound of beef jerkey in one sitting while I was paying for gas once. What I miss most of all was whenever I left for work, as I went through the door, he'd coming bombing down the hallway and pushed the door shut as I was closing it. His way of saying "I've got the house, everyone will be okay until you get back!" And getting back was always a treat because he was soooo happy. I miss that so much.
Our second pup, Grizzly, died in my arms a few months ago. He wasn't the nicest pet, but it was sad anyone. Our remaining dog, Thunder, has another year (I hope) in him. That's going to be torture. But having each of the furbundles is worth it. They always give more than they take.
So, so true Rob, about them giving more than they take. I had tears in my eyes reading your comment. My dog Chili died in my arms too. They are our family and it's just as hard to lose them as any person. But it's so worth it to have the joy they bring us. I hope Thunder stays with you as long as he/she is having a good life.