(Side effects include chewed shoes, sloppy kisses, and a lifetime addiction to dogs.)
I know I’m not alone in saying that I’ve dealt with anxiety for my whole life. But since my boyfriend and I adopted our puppy Luna almost a year ago, my fretting has decreased dramatically. I have begun to think of my wild, not-quite-trained Luna as a my own kind of “therapy dog.” Now I’m no doctor, but if circumstances permit, I believe, from personal experience, that living with a dog can do wonders for a person’s emotional, mental, and even physical health. Here’s how it’s helped mine:
1. I’ve stopped stressing about small stuff to focus Luna.
I will always be worrying about one thing or another (i.e., “Did I leave the lights on at home? Does this mole look funny? Does my co-worker like me?”) But now, I am able to channel some of this excessive energy into taking care of the puppy, rather than on things that are out of my control.
2. I spend more time outside.
A day without taking Luna out to play is a day with a naughty puppy. She needs to be walked or taken to the park once or twice a day—and that’s okay! It gives us a reason to turn off the TV, stretch our legs, and soak up some vitamin D!
3. She’s helped me make friends
I met my neighbor because Luna could not contain her playfulness around Laura’s puppy, Tyago. Laura and I became friends, and the dogs have been wrestling together, almost daily, ever since.
4. She’s always good for a laugh
No matter how bad a day has been, I can’t help but giggle at this little goofball. What’s better stress relief than that?
5. She loves unconditionally
Even on days I feel down and out, as soon as I come home, Luna greets me like nothing in the world could make her happier. And at bedtime? She’s the ultimate snuggle bug.
6. She’s our entertainment
Yes, dogs can be expensive. But she also prevents us from feeling the need to “go out and do something” on our days off—we’d rather spend time with her!
7. She rounds out our family
We live far away from family, and it can be lonely, especially during the holidays. But Luna keeps our spirits high, because when the three of us are together, our family feels complete.