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Perks of having a pet

November 17th, 2011

After our first family dog died, my parents decided to get puppy. We drove to a small farm with Black Lab puppies and took one home in a box. On the way home, I named him Dakoda and we decided to shorten his name to Cody. As it turns out, before we bought him, another family had previously purchased Cody, changed their minds about wanting him, and took him back to the farm. I’m sure this was a bit nerve-wracking for my parents, but they decided to keep him.

Thank goodness they did because he has turned out to be the greatest man’s best friend we could ever hope for. But before I fell in love with him, I hated him and wanted to give him away. When he was a puppy, he chewed on everything and I was the perfect size for him to chew on. For months, I walked on furniture because when I’d walk on the floor he’d bite my toes and ankles. Soon, he outgrew me and I became an even easier target for him to practice using his razor-sharp puppy teeth.

After many behavior classes and after growing out his puppy stage, he stopped biting things, including me, and grew into a loving and adventurous friend. So adventurous, that he created some great stories to tell. Once he ran away and got on a Laketran bus, and another time when he wandered off, a family stole him and held him for ransom.

Those were the only two times he ran away, and I am glad we got him back. He will be turning 14 in February and he has turned into a handsome old man. The fur around his mouth is gray and he groans when he lies down and stands up. Luckily, he is rather healthy for his age. Labs usually live to around 12-14 years, but (knock on wood) he is still alive and energetic. Though he doesn’t have the same energy as he used to, he still loves to play catch and play with his toys.

 

Sometimes I wish he could talk, because I wonder what he would say to me when I talk to him as if he’s a baby, calling him stupid nicknames like Woobie and Lovebug and dressing him up on Halloween. I think he would just stare at me and say something like, “Listen lady, I am 98 years old in dog years and I’m 75 pounds. I’m not your little lovebug.”

No matter how many times I probably annoy him with my nicknames and try to play with him when he’s trying to sleep, he always seems to be happy to see me. It’s so nice to come home every evening after a long day and have him waiting for me, wagging his tail. He is always happy to see me no matter what. That is something I think everyone deserves in their life. We all should have funny stories about raising a pup, having one waiting to greet us with a wagging tail and lots of excitement. It makes the bad days much easier to get through—to know someone is always going to be excited to see you when you get home.

On top of these emotional benefits, there are proven health benefits to having a pet, even if not necessarily a dog. WebMD features an article on these benefits which shows pets help lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety and boost immunity. Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in their homes. Having a pet can provide companionship, naturally raise levels of serotonin and dopamine and for those who are able to walk or run with a dog, this can provide exercise. Heart attack patients who have pets in their homes are proven to survive longer than those without. In addition to this, male pet owners have decreased signs of heart disease than non-owners.

I love my pup and I love to hear about others who have a Cody in their lives. I hope everyone has an opportunity to own a pet like him at some point in their lives because the benefits are certainly worth it. Having a Cody is proven to make you happier and healthier, and who wouldn’t want that?