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K-9 comfort

As I put the key in the ignition, I notice the pouring rain has dramatically increased in the last 20 minutes. I turn the wiper blades to a higher speed and look to my right. Looking back at me is my two-month-old Golden Retriever.

His soft drooping eyes, charcoal-black nose and floppy ears trigger an unhindered grin on my face.

I manage to get halfway home before he tries to throw himself onto my lap while driving cautiously through the stormy night. He nestles into my lap and we make it home unscathed.

Before I got my dog I felt high-strung and a lack of motivation in keeping routine.

My aggression and impatience subsided as I approached the learning curve of dog training. I instilled training and repetition to my dog’s daily life, which subsequently ingrained routine and motivation into my own life.

My patience was tested on numerous occasions, however.

The most memorable test to date was an hour-long trek through a rainstorm, where he refused to do his business in the allotted time. By the time we got home I was angry but wouldn’t kid myself by acting surprised.

This was the type of world I entered, blindly maybe, and I wasn’t going to give up.

Even on my most stressful days, he’s sitting there smiling at me and awaiting my affection. He’ll pick up toys at random and place them at my feet, roll around on his back and come to a halt while upside down, showing his teeth and letting his lips droop by the force of gravity.

According to the American Heart Association, dog ownership in particular may help reduce cardiovascular risk. In a study by the AHA out of 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and are 54 per cent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

Owning a pet can be associated with lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and can also have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress.

The culminating piece of wisdom I’ve gained since owning a dog is that you should enjoy the simple things in life. The amount of stress you hold is measured in the amount of energy you let it consume from you.

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