Going to the Dogs: That's Me!

It's a no-brainer.  Dogs make us feel better.  Full disclosure: I've never had a dog.  My mother and sister were both allergic so we never had one growing up, though we did take in a stray during a snowstorm and I regret to say I don't remember what happened to him (hopefully, returned to his owners).

But The New York Times reported today that having a dog may lower your heart risk.  I have to admit, since becoming a mom, the nurturing side has come out in me and I now love dogs (am even thinking of getting one for my pre-adolescent son, even though I know who will wind up taking care of him or her). I feel calmer when I'm petting them and I love looking into their eyes, and seeing the soul in there.

I watched a Judge Judy segment yesterday where an estranged couple were fighting over custody of their dog, a Husky with piercing blue eyes. The dog kept whimpering and running back and forth between the man and the woman, crying and leaping first on the woman, then barking joyously and running to her father, while the man -- the actual owner of the dog -- looked on.

But the dog kept coming back to him, too.  "You've made one very psychotic dog," Judge Judy intoned drily.

My heart kind of turned over in my chest watching this animal race from loved one to loved one.  In the end, the woman magnanimousy agreed to let the man keep the dog, and with tears in her eyes (and her father blowing his nose), the dog was returned to the man.  But everyone in the courtroom (me, too) was teary.  It was hard to watch.

How to explain the effect dogs have on people?  I don't know.  I knew a woman who led a very priviledged life who wanted to do something with her life and she went through exhaustive training to turn her dog into one who can go into children's hospital wards and nursing homes and soothe the ill and distressed. 

Blood pressures go down, aches disappear, and for a moment, all is right with the world, with a dog in the room. 

Some people think animals don't think or feel (I had quite a long staring contest with a squirrel once), but of course that's not true.  They're every bit as sensitive and caring as we are.  Hmm.  Looks like I'm going to the pound this weekend.



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