5 Benefits of Dog Ownership Even Adolf Hitler got from his dog Blondie
Why pet, why dog.
On the surface, it is much easier to develop reasoning against pet ownership. The basic notion of inviting any creature (albeit "tame") into your own sacred living space I must say is objectively repulsive. The idea of sharing my space with most people I meet would be in many cases untenable. Having an exchange student for a year is a huge challenge for most families. Are even the worst exchange students cleaner than the average pet? No way. Are pets less work to take care of? Probably not. Well, is the pet going to perform some useful task that an exchange student couldn't do? Um, maybe, but let's not kid ourselves. Pets are reasonably and logically just worthless wastes of time and money. When I was an exchange student in Europe I was close to being a worthless waste of money, but it ended up benefiting me ever since. Of course, unless a pet belongs to Michael Vick, it probably benefits more than its owner from the arrangement.
This all being true, If you've ever owned and loved a pet like me, you see many things that make all the headache worthwhile. It's counter-intuitive to have a pet, but speaking from experience, it's worth it at the end of the day. Our ancestors knew what they were doing when they domesticated the wild and untamed wolf. Cats, well, maybe them too. There's still work to be done with cats...
Of all the worthwhile things, I have to say in my opinion and experience (mostly with cats and a couple dogs) "man's best friend" seems to have the best record of earning their keep. My current dog embodies most the top reasons for pet ownership and many more in spades. I boiled them down to the most significant (and most canine) of all the reasons to have a pet, namely a dog. Here are the top 5:
- The dog knows how to live life. A dog makes the most of it's short time on earth. It always is willing to exercise, play, cuddle, and relate to you in anyway it can. It doesn't engage in solitary activities, it lives life like this may be the last day to have fun, so let's have all the fun we can right now! Every dog wants its day to be today, everyday. Carpe canine diem! The way my dog lives reminds me a lot of the French, who have a lot of stuff nailed down really well when it comes to knowing how to live life.
- Interacting with the dog boosts the feel-good chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin. Without adequate serotonin you are on a fast-track to depression. This research agrees with my personal experience. As one who experienced the awfulness of depression myself, it doesn't surprise me that the whole time I didn't have a pet. This brings me to my next point, well 3 points.
- Dogs live in the now, they don't hold grudges (very forgiving) and never trip and wring their paws about the future. They are making the most of the present moment, just trusting that they'll get what they need. Imagine us, as humans having a mysterious god-like being deliver food to us from out of nowhere on a regular basis. You don't know where it came from, or how it could possibly be (or not be) replenished tomorrow. Manna from Heaven? Tastes like chicken or something. Well, dogs seem to like it.
- Dogs treat you better than you deserve. Dogs are universally accepting. Even Hitler's dog liked him.
They are not good judges of character, this is a negative side effect of the simple "living in the moment". The positive side is, after a bad day at the office, or when you get some devastating setback, the dog will still cheer you up. That's just what dogs do.
5.They get you outside. They are hopelessly social animals. These two things combine to help you network and get to know some new friends, not to mention fresh air, sunlight, vitamin D, more serotonin, etc. For a working stiff like me, the dog softens my image and makes me more approachable. It gets my arse off the couch and away from this computer where I can interact with other human beings. My interactions just from taking the dog out to pee have resulted in all kinds of interesting conversations with people whom I'd otherwise never had even met. Until I had a dog, I thought only smokers had an excuse to step outside for a bit every now and then. Dogs are the healthiest solution. When I tried to do this before being a non-smoker without a dog, I got looks like I was crazy or angry or something. No, I really love to step outside now and then, no matter the weather. That's how I grew up and I really missed it. Thanks to my dog, I never have to explain myself.
Thanks to my dog, more of my time is spent enjoying myself, living in the moment with my "pack" of loved ones nearby.
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© 2012 Doug DeWalt