Dogs Improve Everything

Friday, 28 April 2017

I love my dogs. I love my dogs. I love my dogs. Did I mention that I love my dogs? In case you missed it. . . I love my dogs. With May being National Dog Month, I thought that I would share more about my favourite little fur babies, Millie and Toby

I have previously talked about my fur-babies in this post where I talk about their breed and how we got them. Long story short; they're Border-Collie-Springer-Spaniel crosses and they were free to good homes and we haven't looked back since. They have brought so much joy to this house.

My dogs brought life to a home that had been renovated and adapted to suit a disabled person, my father. They would gallivant around the house like they owned it, they would roll on the carpet and jump up onto the couch beside us and race around each other from one end of the room to the other when they played. Millie's efforts of chasing Toby are often hysterical. She often spins around on a dime but instead of doing a straight-forward 360* turn, she does a 450* before jumping back a few degrees to face Toby once she realises that she had gone too far. 

Aside from making my sides split and my eyes tear from laughter, they have had a dramatic affect on my health and all for the better and all in a way that I could never have imagined.

I always say that nothing could have prepared me for their personalities. Toby is a little softy and Millie is a cheeky little madam. If I'm out for the day, Millie would give-off to me for being out. I know that that's what she's saying because her tone in her grumbling growls just screams, "Just where have you been?" See? Cheeky little madam and I just take my dead-end when she does that. It warms my heart to know that she missed me. Besides, she's the most least intimidating dog I've ever come across.

Having dogs as companions has proven medical benefits which you can read in the graphic above but I never truly realised the impact they've had until I thought about it. 

My mother has high blood pressure which was a result of caring for my disabled father for years. She would stress herself to the hilt in the mornings by taking care of him and feel her blood pressure rising and rising. Then she would see to the dogs and that stress would instantly be washed away by their affection. Millie and Toby love with pure and unconditional affection and they show it without hesitation. As soon as she walked into the room which we call 'their bedroom', all the stress from the morning was erased and their kisses, snuggles and antics made everything better.

In my workplace, I can feel extremely frustrated and I can get angry with my colleagues. I will stew on that anger in my car on the drive home and then gripe for hours. That rant in my head is always cut short because I'm usually tackled by Toby, followed shortly by Millie (she's usually more interested in getting to her tennis ball). They run to me and jump up (they're allowed to on me), and wag their tails and will want to give me kisses. They wiggle a lot and so I call them, 'the Wiggle Bums' and they smile. Yes, they smile. They give me big toothy grins that to any outsider would probably look quite fearsome but we know that they're smiling because they smile back at us. 

With walking dogs, you already get a good amount of exercise, right? Walking Toby can be stressful because he doesn't like having people approach him. If he's approaching someone walking in the same direction, then he's good as gold. Plus, he's a little tank. He walks me. I got around this by running with him so that he burns off that initial anxious energy of being out. He's burning off his energy and I'm burning off that chocolate bar that I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner (all different bars, not even kidding). Plus. we all know that exercise increases Oxytocin levels (the love hormone for the non-scientists in the crowd) and decreases Cortisol (the stress hormone), so you're getting a boost to the happy hormones. Can't be angry at that! Even more so, lower stress levels means that your blood pressure normalises and your immune system will be boosted. Score. Be right back, I'm going to walk the dogs.

The biggest influence my dogs have had on my family and me came in November 2016 when my father passed away from a 16 year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. When he died, my aunt asked if we were going to put them in kennels for a few days as people would be visiting the house to pay their respects and say their goodbyes to my Dad. 

We had no notion of putting them in kennels and we were so glad that we didn't do that. At the end of the day, when everyone had left and my mum, brother and I were left to our own devices and thoughts, Millie and Toby were such a welcome distraction. They would come in and play together to entertain us or they would sit up on the settee with us. They helped us to grieve because they grieved too. Millie actually sniffed at the coffin and said her goodbyes to my dad whereas Toby didn't want to look at all. Toby's reaction really shocked us because he became depressed and withdrawn and honestly, Toby missed him. Toby was my dad's favourite because Toby was so gentle with my Dad whereas Millie just traipsed over the top of him. 

Any time I was sitting alone in my bedroom, one of my dogs would push my door open and jump up beside me. They would give me a kiss (or twenty), and then would snuggle in alongside me and have a wee doze. Just that small act of being with me and snuggling alongside me, made everything seem brighter. I felt loved and secure and that they loved me in turn and wanted to cheer me up. 

My dogs are insanely clever, especially Millie. Being part collie and part spaniel, they are fiercely intelligent. Millie is obsessed with tennis balls and my brother loves to torture her by setting her ball in places that she cannot easily access. We will watch her survey all of her options and then put Plan A and Plan B and Plan C into action. Sometimes her plans don't go the way she wants them to and that's when we love to watch her mind at work. Once she's figured the problem out and she has her reward, any repeat incident with my brother is a breeze and she struts back with the ball in her mouth, her head held high and her little quill-tail waving victoriously. She makes me wish that I were that clever. 

They have improved my physical and mental health for the better and I cannot thank them enough yet all they ask in return in my love and care. They get that in abundance. I'm forever talking about them and taking photographs of them. They litter my social media all day long and have been featured on this blog too. They are my babies and my buddies and the loves of my life. They give my Mum such joy and they make her feel like a kid, especially when we're dressing them up. Yes, we're guilty of that. 

I would love to hear about your dogs and how they've helped you in any shape or form or better yet, write a blog post yourself about them and link it to me. I would love to read about them. Also, check out PuppySpot, fellow puppy lovers, and their page here to look at other cute puppies and read their stories and who knows, find your own little bundle of furry joy, they're worth ever precious moment and every slobber covered tennis ball that Millie insists that I throw over-and-over-and-over-and-over-and-over....

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