I thought I was rescuing a dog, turned out the dog had arrived in my life to rescue me.
I didn’t notice it for a while of course, didn’t spot that every time I came home from dropping the kids to school, that he led me straight to fun, rather than the dishwasher, his squeaky, rubber, ball in mouth, sitting just inside the front door, looking too cute and determined, to refuse him the instant play session he was after in the garden.
I didn’t notice either the number of extra times I smiled in a day, for some time, every time I glanced at him, or how I would laugh out loud every time he found an old bone and was jostling it up in the air, his face looking extra furry with mischief, when he’d turn to see if I was looking at the acrobatics, during one of the bone’s summersaulting intervals.
It took me a while to see too that when there was a big row in the house, the dog seemed to re-unite those hostile with each other, by simply sitting in between us, thus engineering that we look in each other’s direction, as a by-product of our both reaching our hands out in unison to rub his head.
My dog, I discovered was rescuing me from the serious and sometimes stupid things we do in life, the fights and the overwork, in favour of love and fun.
How could I have known, when I picked up that skinny and scared little guy at the rescue centre years ago, how much he was going to add to our family, in terms of goodness, fun, laughter and at times reconciliation!
New studies appear every day showing how positive emotions can impact our physical health for the better, by boosting brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Some even follow on to say that the pleasure, routine, fun, bonding, trust, rewarding and nurturing relationship that can come from having our pets, can indeed contribute to the production of these chemicals in our brains and make us feel better not only emotionally, but enhance our body’s ability to repair and nurture itself physically.
And that’s without even considering how stroking a dog or cat might reduce our blood pressure, or how my dog strategically diluting that hostile family row by positioning himself between the fighting parties, might also enhance mental and physical wellbeing!
Ironically, I discovered on our first trip to the vet, that my furry friend, has, like his owner, a heart condition. It seemed almost ironic and comical, but yet totally fitting for us both, that we had found each other. It was very soothing to hear the vet go on to say that despite it, he was thriving and that whatever we were doing, we should keep doing it.
“That’ll be rubber ball play time in the garden every morning”, I said, smiling widely at the memory, causing the vet to smile too. Turns out it has been not just fun for my dog, but medicinal for him too!
Truth is, life can be a serious business, as can ill health. But in my experience, my dog provides the hairy medicine that can be a great antidote. He can rescue me from the chores and serious matters for a while, and in the process activate all those good chemicals and practices in my life, that I most likely would not activate by going straight into work and chore mode after dropping off the kids, which was the norm for the old, ‘pre-pet’ me.
In many ways, my hairy medicine, has rescued me from myself. He is my ‘accountability partner’ making sure I get enough fun and entertainment into the mix every day, restoring the balance I seemed so hopeless at creating by myself despite years of wanting it. And of course, given that all those fun and entertaining work outs are physically good for both our hearts, we have become accountability exercise buddies too.
But whether you have an illness or not, for sheer joy, love, fun, harmony and more balance in life, I recommend hairy medicine to everyone. If nothing else, your pet will get you very good at downing tools and being in the moment for a while, and that, we know, is physically and mentally good for everyone.
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