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Why A Dog is Good for Your Health

 It's early in the morning, and I'm sitting here with my little Pomchi, Mosie. I'm waiting for my coffee to brew, and she is waiting for me to make breakfast. Every day she hopes that she will get at least a small piece of whatever I'm cooking. It doesn't always happen, but she can hope. I love having Mosie around, and I love my other dog, Manny, who I haven't seen in two months now. It's no surprise that when a friend told me she wanted to get a dog that I told her to go for it. She was trying to convince her family members that she should get one. "Say it's good for your health! I'll write it up for you," I responded. Here I am, writing up for her how a dog is good for her health and yours, too. 

1. Dogs Boost Your Mood. One of the things I love the most about my dogs is how happy they are. Every morning, they wake up and act like it's the best day of their lives. Both of my dogs are like that. It's like they are saying, "Yeah, we get to say hello to the world today!" They wake up with a lot of energy and can't wait to go outside. I love that. It puts a smile on my face every morning and starts off my day great. Of course, once they get outside, they want to come back inside right eat.

2. Dogs Help You Set A Schedule. If you have been reading my posts for any amount of time, you know that I really like having a schedule (at least a loose one), and I'm a big believer in having at least some sort of routine every day. Routines and plans help reduce stress because you have some power over what is going to happen. It also reduces the number of surprises you have in your day. I feed my dogs at breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time that I eat. I also give them treats throughout the day. Since I have moved, I can't just open the sliding door and let my dog, Mosie, out onto the deck to do her business. Instead, I walk her several times a day for a few minutes so she can get her exercise and go potty. 

Mosie Moiselle is a pomchi. 

3. Dogs Help You Exercise. Every day, I take my little dog, Mosie, for several walks. Her first one is first thing in the morning when we get up. I put her on her leash, and we walk around the area where I am living. Getting fresh air and feeling the cool brisk morning breeze on my face is a great way to start my day. It's so quiet and peaceful, too. It's a short walk, maybe ten minutes, but it is exactly what I need. It's like winding up my personal clock. For most people who know me, I have two speeds...go and stop. The morning walk helps me set my pace for the day. I also walk for five or ten minutes walk at least four or five more times during the day. If you are keeping track, that is about five to six mini-walks of 10 minutes...or 50 to 60 minutes of walking a day. That's at least two miles walking my dog a day. 

4. Dogs Teach You Mindfulness. If you haven't noticed already, my dogs remind me of things I have to do every day. I don't sleep in a lot of mornings, because I want to wake up early and take care of my dogs. I love waking up and seeing their smiling faces. Like I said, I only have Mosie right now, but she smiles at me every morning when I wake up. I have to remember all of the things that I need to do for her. That keeps me on my own schedule and reminds me of what I need to do for myself. I also joke that both of my dogs are perfectionists, because if anything is out of place, or if I left a closet door open, or the dryer is open, or I haven't put my clothes away, my dogs tell me. Last week, I was walking Mosie, and she went up to someone else's door and was sniffing at their mat because it was out of place! She's always looking out for everyone. Because they are always looking around and being aware of their surroundings, they have taught me to do the same thing. Even as I'm writing this, Mosie came up and tapped me on my arm with her paw to remind me that I'm cooking breakfast while I'm writing. Oh, yeah. Better check the stove! 

Mosie keeps me mindful.

5. Dogs Reduce Stress. I admit it. I get stressed some days, and moving to another state and having to deal with all of the changes and people and feeling like I'm living like I'm 29 and I'm 49 can get really stressful. After having worked in an emergency department administration, I try to keep my stress in perspective. Let's be honest, everything isn't life and death like we like to pretend it is. Still, if we don't deal with the little issues of life as they come at us or we don't have the confidence to believe that we can handle those issues, our stress levels increase. My dogs can often sense when my stress level goes up, and they will actually push their heads under my hand, so I can pet them. Mosie will sit right next to me or start licking my hand so I will pet her. The motion of petting an animal does reduce anxiety for both people and pets. When you hug a pet (or people), you release a chemical in your body called oxytocin. I usually tell people to hug the pet or the person for two solid minutes, because that way the oxytocin is really released. I know when I hug my dog, I feel instantly better, and my dog acts happier, too. I would do the same thing with grumpy family members. I would say, "I'm going to hug you." 

6. Dogs Prevent Loneliness and Isolation. Even though I've felt isolated at times, I never really felt lonely. Mostly because I'm a huge extrovert, and I'm always chatting with someone or talking to long-time friends or family members or my dogs. Now that I am single again, I don't have to eat by myself because my dog, Mosie is there. A lot of people have felt lonely because of COVID-19, and dogs can be a way to combat that loneliness. The other part I love about my dog is that I do have to walk her outside. That gives me a chance to socialize with people, even if it is only because they like my dog. But, if my dog doesn't like you, I don't, either. Mosie is a big TV bug, so I always have someone to watch a movie with, and she lays by my side when I am working. She spends most of her time participating in her favorite hobby, napping, but she is still there. I don't know what I would have done in my recent move if my dog, Mosie, wasn't here with me. She has helped me feel like even with all of these changes that my life still has some continuity.