A dog is life changing physically and mentally.
They say that a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself and a dog will teach you unconditional love.
A man once said to me, “A dog is always pleased to see you, loves you unconditionally, is obedient, keeps you fit and wants to sleep with you. What more could a man want?”
I’m smiling because my response was, “That sounds like the description of a perfect partner.”
I’m sure many a man or women have looked at their partner at some point and thought, if only you were like our dog, life would be so much easier and more pleasurable.
If only our four-legged friends could live forever…
When someone decides to own a dog, they know that it’s going to end with them having to say goodbye to their precious four-legged friend – yet we still do it. We start a new relationship with a hairy buddy that hopefully brings years of joy and adds great value to our lives.
A dog brings companionship, motivation and exercise. It gives us a purpose and incorporates routine into our lives. Caring for a dog increases interaction with others, improves fitness, introduces calm and relaxation – all of which enhance your existence. I would, however, like to add at this point that I was not calm when my dog ate the remote control and a dead rabbit! I was not relaxed when he brought me a deer skull from the woods or when he had a frog, still alive, hanging from his mouth!
The tail wagging, wet-nosed bundle of mischief can improve your health…
They say that owning a dog can add years to your life. In 2017 a Chinese study linked ownership of a dog to a reduced risk of heart disease and it is said that dog owners are less likely to get depression. Mental health is just as important as physical health, sometimes having a dog can be an ideal channel for a content and fulfilled life.
One man and his dog…
I had the pleasure of spending time with one man and his dog. We walked in the woods and ‘Bungle’, the very cute 3 yr old working Cocker Spaniel bounced around like an excited puppy amongst the fallen leaves and in the muddy puddles.
Bungle was a new addition to the man’s family.
What a difference a day makes…
One day you don’t have a dog and the next day you do. What a difference a day makes! I didn’t tell the man at the time but I noticed a difference in his demeanour, his attitude and his posture since the last time I had seen him – when he was dogless.
Call me daft, call me soppy but I truly believe, having Bungle has ‘completed him’ in some aspects of his life – Bungle has filled a void.
The interesting thing is that this man didn’t go looking to fill the void, it just happened.
Who is this one man?
This is where I am going to introduce my ‘one man and his dog’ properly. Chris is in his late fifties and he fostered the very friendly Bungle earlier this year. Chris lives in a village just outside Buckingham, a charming place with lots of places to walk a dog.
Chris is totally in love with Bungle and Bungle adores Chris. I believe that there was an instant bond as soon as Bungle and Chris met but it wasn’t really meant to be that way at the start.
Chris’s family were the ones that wanted the dog but Bungle has chosen who he wants to love him!
He chose Chris…
So Chris now has a four legged friend for life!
Great choice Bungle!
Welcome Chris, tell us a bit about Bungle…
Bungle is a very alert, affectionate, loyal and happy dog – a pleasure to have around.
He gets on very well with people though he is not really bothered about other dogs. There are some dogs that he knows and gets on well with but he will tend to ignore ones he doesn’t know.
Bungle is not food-obsessed, he needs walking and mentally stimulating. Currently, he gets around 2 hours walking a day – you can reduce/increase this on a day-to-day basis but you should aim to average this.
For mental stimulation, I try and change his walk every now and then which he really enjoys. I may also try dog agility classes with him but living in the countryside means he does get walked off the lead in different places regularly which seems to do the trick.
As long as you can exercise a Cocker Spaniel enough I would thoroughly recommend this breed. He rarely barks, doesn’t moult, can be left alone for several hours (or longer in exceptional circumstances) and is very well-behaved. Having said that we got him as a 3-year-old rescue dog and I suspect if you got one as a puppy the first year or so could be quite manic!
Bungle is very happy in the car – no issue at all.
Having said all the above please note breeds have general behavioural traits but individual dogs vary a lot – each has his or her own personality and the above is not a guarantee!
Why did you choose to have a dog?
I didn’t – my family wanted a dog and I eventually agreed. As it turned out he quickly became “my dog” and now we are the best of friends.
Have you had a dog before?
No – but I wish I had.
What’s a typical week with Bungle?
Well I work and my wife is away quite a bit so we probably have quite an unusual arrangement.
Each morning I get up about 6am and take Bungle for a 3-mile walk. This may sound like a chore but it absolutely isn’t. Luckily I am quite a morning person so it works for me. I have lost weight since I got him. He doesn’t really like rain so we tend to stay in if it’s bucketing it down though we still go out in light drizzle/showers.
I work from home a couple of days a week so on those days I take him out for a quick walk about lunchtime then a longer walk about teatime.
When I am working he is looked after by some friends of ours who also have a dog and we, in turn, look after their dog when we can and they go on holiday.
Obviously, as the days get shorter we will have to review the above arrangement but I’m sure we can sort things out
About 10:00 pm I take him down the road for another “wee wee walk” as he absolutely will not relieve himself in the house (good) or garden (not so good).
After that is his bed-time, he just lazes on the floor, sofa, bed wherever and drifts off to sleep.
What value has he brought to your life physically and mentally?
Physically I’m fitter and have lost (some) weight. A dog is just a great excuse to go for a walk and if you live in the country it’s ace!
If you don’t enjoy a walk then don’t get a dog ! I have tried running with him which works except he is MUCH faster than me.
Mentally it’s just wonderful to have that unconditional total love. When I wake up or get home from work (or the shops or anywhere) he is just overjoyed and jumps up and down and runs in circles – he simply can’t get enough of me.
Even when I wake up (Ok yes he sleeps on the bed…) he wags his tail and comes for a cuddle. You are simply never alone when you have a dog and he (or she) absolutely is your best friend. To be able to give such pleasure simply by saying “walkies” is such a wonderful experience.
Feeling down – stroke the dog, feeling good – stroke the dog.
I’m sure there are lots of experienced dog owners rolling their eyes at this but as a 57-year-old first-time-dog-owner, I can’t quite find the words to describe just how good it is.
Has your opinion about dog owners changed now you understand the bond you have with your dog?
Yes – see above! One thing I didn’t expect is how sociable owning a dog is – when you go for a walk virtually every other dog owner (and quite a few non-dog owners) says hello and stops for a chat. You can swap dog sitting duties with friends and neighbours when you or they go on holiday as kennels are a last resort for most dog owners – all good for the social life.
P.S, if you are a single man (which I’m not, almost at 25 years married!) I really would recommend getting a cute dog – I’m sure you don’t need me to explain further…
What are the downsides to owning a dog?
It is a commitment and a responsibility – you can’t decide to go away for the night “on a whim” unless you have good friends prepared to care for them (which we have). We find that in most cases we don’t want to go away without him anyway so it’s not a big issue with us
Bungle is such a good natured well behaved dog that an evening out is not an issue at all – and he is ecstatic when you get back!
It’s more expensive than I thought – insurance, vet bills, food, clipping, bits and pieces do add up.
Being a spaniel he is into ditches, puddles, ponds, undergrowth, you name it. And he has quite a long coat so he needs brushing and cleaning most days.
He enjoys physical contact so there’s no issue re cleaning his paws, ears, coat or anything but if you leave it not only could he get ill and in pain but it could cost you a lot at the vets.
Pet insurance has an excess like any other form of insurance so don’t think pet insurance = no vet bills. I find brushing, combing, cleaning him a very soothing and relaxing thing for me as well and you can do it while you watch telly.
You have to pick up his poop – a bit yucky for the first week but after that a) you get totally used to it and b) it may seem a bit weird but it’s a good way of checking on their health – any “issues” in that area alerts you that he may be a bit off-colour or worse.
You have to factor them in if your life changes – in our case my wife works away a lot although it did give me a good excuse to work from home twice a week.
One day your dog won’t be with you anymore – they don’t live as long as us (sad face).
Thank you Chris for your contribution to this article. I’m sure there will people out there that can relate to you. I do.
The bond between a man and his dog can be quite intense but in a lovely way. I read an article that told the story of a German Shepherd who sat at his owner’s grave on and off for six years. Totally committed to his owner, until the dog’s dying days.
Sometimes owning a dog just doesn’t work out…
You could be the best person and dog owner in the world but have a dog with bad traits or you and your dog just aren’t a good match.
What is important is you do the best you can for the dog. If it means you have to rehome the dog for their own good, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
So long as you’ve tried everything you can to make it work. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to do the best for your dog.
Only fools rush in…
Owning a dog is a big thing, there will be laughter, tears, doggy tantrums and smells. Don’t rush your decision to own a dog!
If you are considering owning a dog, use our extensive checklist to help you make sure you are ready. Be sure, to be sure!
- What does your future hold? A rather daft question because we never really know what will happen tomorrow. However, for example, if you are thinking of renting a property or moving abroad it may present some obvious limitations and problems if you own a dog. Where could you see yourself in a year? Maybe having the responsibility of a dog won’t be a good idea
- Do you travel a lot and your dog will be alone for long periods of time?
- Ask yourself – are you getting a dog for the right reasons?
- Are you ready to deal with what can be an emotional experience?
- Will your health allow you to care for a dog?
- Do you have the energy and agility to care for a dog?
- Are you elderly? Do you have a support network that can help you if you get taken ill? What would happen to your dog if you passed away? (having said that, anyone could die at any time – at any age)
- Do you have the appropriate surroundings to raise a dog?
- Can you afford a dog – the vet bills, the insurance, the food, the accessories etc?
- Do you have a baby or small children, will it be safe to have a dog in your home?
- Where will it be kept day and night?
- Do you need to crate train your dog?
- Can you adapt your home to make it dog safe? For example are there electrical cables they could chew? Do you have a large pond that they could fall into and get caught up in something? Do you have fences to stop your dog going on other people’s land etc…
- Are there doorways that will allow for a stair gate if you need to confine the dog sometimes?
- Do you live on the main road, can you take measures to prevent your dog from running out onto the road from the home?
- Is anyone in your family, any of your friends or people your dog will have to mix with allergic to dogs?
- Does your child have asthma?
- If your dog barks a lot will the noise be a problem?
- Do you rent a property, are you allowed pets?
- Can you afford vaccinations and have your dog chipped?
- Are you prepared to have things chewed in your home?
- Are you ok if your dog decides to dig holes in the lawn and poop everywhere?
- Are you ok picking up smelly poo and be a responsible dog owner when in public places?
- Are you prepared to deal with mud, fox poo, hair, wet dog smells, dirty clothes, dirty carpets, growling, passing wind, vomit, dead animals etc?
- Are you prepared to lose sleep?
- Do you need to transport your dog, do you have an appropriate vehicle?
- Have you researched everything to do with owning a dog?
- Are you the sort of person who will sort unexpected challenges without panicking? For example, a dead rabbit that a dog will not drop from its mouth! I made the fatal mistake of trying to take the rabbit from him, it got very messy. I wasn’t going to win no matter what I did
- Do you know what areas are dog-friendly in your area?
- Do you have friends and family that can help you out with your dog if there is a problem?
- Do you understand the legal responsibilities that you have when you own a dog?
How intense was that list?
There are pros and cons when it comes to owning a pet. All you pet owners out there will understand when I say, when you look at those animal’s little faces (unless it’s something like a stick insect) and you see their big smiling eyes, you get a warm feeling inside.
I’m always smiling at animals, smiling is good for you and your health.
Sadly, I don’t have any pets now apart from a bottom feeder (as in the tank) little white fish called ‘Tuppence’.
I even smile at my fish!
** The content on this site should not be used as medical advice, we are giving our readers information and insights. If you are concerned about your health or need medical advice please see your doctor. If you are struggling with any issues please talk to someone – don’t suffer in silence. **