Why having dogs in your life is the greatest gift of all

I never thought or expected that having animals (in my case, a dog) would enrich my life immensely – physically and emotionally.

What began many thousands of years ago as a mutual-services contract between two very different species – humans and dogs – became something much more like love. What is love anyway?

Love is simple yet complicated to put into words. It’s just a feeling that makes you do extraordinary things. It rarely touches the reasoning parts of the brain. It touches the dreamy parts, the devoted parts – it touches the parts we sometimes call the heart. And for many thousands of years, it’s there that our dogs have lived. Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows that ‘kind of love’ – which is seen otherwise only between a human and its offspring.

Studies have shown that looking at your dog in the eyes can boost levels of oxytocin in both the person and the dog. Simply stroking a dog can also lead to lower blood pressure and combat stress. The feelings are reciprocated, as our touch can have therapeutic effects for our dogs, especially if they are feeling down.

Dogs are great companion animals. They provide support and friendship to the lonely, sick or elderly. They are sensitive creatures – dogs understand us more than some humans do.

Dogs give us love that is unconditional and pure, and with that comes responsibility to protect, give back and nurture the bond.

“The capacity for love that makes dogs such rewarding companions has a flip-side: They find it difficult to cope without us. Since we humans programmed this vulnerability, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our dogs do not suffer as a result.”

John Bradshaw, Author (Dog Sense)

So, what’s the greatest gift Bowie has given me? It’s himself and a better version of myself. He definitely keeps pushing me to learn to understand him, but as a result he taught me compassion, simple pleasures in life and not to waste time on bulls**ts. He taught me to stop and live for the moment.