Practically speaking, nobody has to have a dog. There isn’t a single circumstance in which having a dog is a necessity. There are lots of examples of dogs making life easier, better, happier, and healthier. But none where a dog is absolutely vital.
Which makes us wonder why some people have dogs. We’re not talking about dog-loving, dog-obsessed people like us. We don’t need a reason. We’re talking about people like Hope encountered teaching our Club’s puppy class.
This very nice couple has a lovely Springer Spaniel puppy. She’s well taken care of, beautifully groomed, has a nice, stable temperament, and learns pretty quickly. And we have absolutely no idea why they have this dog.
They don’t want their dog in the bedroom. Or on the furniture. She’s locked away in the laundry room when they’re not home. We got the impression she’s there a lot of the time when they are home, too. She is taken for walks a couple of times a day, but her actual time with the family seems to be limited.
Why have a dog?
These people obviously went to some trouble to find this dog. She’s well-bred, beautiful, both physically and mentally solid. The people aren’t interested in showing her, Springers aren’t a trendy breed. We just don’t understand why they have a dog at all.
Back in the day, the mental picture of the ideal nuclear family was go-to-work Dad, stay-at-home Mom, Dick, Jane, and Sally playing in the picket-fenced yard with their dog Spot. But that mythical picture dissolved long ago. Maybe they’re nostalgic and trying to create something that really never was.
The number one reason most people give for having a dog is companionship. It’s absolutely the best reason to have a dog. It’s life-enhancing having someone around who’s always thrilled to see you, makes sure you get up and move every day, gives you daily smiles, will happily share a snack, and is always ready for a cuddle on the couch.
Reasons for dogs
The second reason people say they get dogs is to get more exercise. Aside from rolling out of bed and into the yard to watch dogs do their “business,” we’re not really sure it works. It kind of depends on what kind of dog they get. Some dogs are constantly-in-motion types. Others are just as happy to sit around all day and watch television.
The next rationale cited is mostly from young people. Their objective is practicing parenthood – trying out their skills on a dog before they commit to human children. It works, to some degree. After all, dogs are like perpetual toddlers, with a similar degree of care and supervision required. But dogs will never go away to school, become independent, or move out. Dogs are a commitment that’s intense at both ends of their lives.
Unlike the people in puppy class, most people with dogs fall under the spell of complete, unconditional love that dogs provide. The bond is even deeper for people and dogs who do stuff together, whether it’s playing training games and dog sports, doing dog therapy visits, accompanying you everywhere, or just being there as you work from home.
Don’t you love hearing your dog napping quietly near you? It makes the day go better, regardless of how fun or frustrating it is. And when you do get up to stretch, or get a drink, your dog is ready for action. With the added benefit that you never, ever have to go to the bathroom alone.
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