"Opinion" The emotional support of a dog

Jennifer Bonn

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Jen Bonn

When we first brought home our dog Bandit, emotional support was not the first thing that came to mind. He was a four-month-old puppy with manic energy. I used to look at my husband and say, “Where is the off button?” During the first week, he chewed two pairs of Under Armor tights, and my favorite pajama pants. If you have seen the commercial where the woman keeps apologizing because her dog keeps getting into trouble, that was us for the first few months. Stress and the thought of how do I make this work was a constant, but little by little, we started to form a bond until now, I could not imagine life without him. The love he shows us is amazing to see, and it has improved my emotional health. Here is why I think animals offer us emotional support.

Unconditional love

Animals offer us unconditional love. They attach themselves to us emotionally just as we do to them. They aren’t going to let us down or betray us. They need love as much as we do. I love the way Bandit bolts out the door in the morning, but then stops and waits for me as if he needs to wait for his buddy to start the adventures for the day. Of course, if he sees a squirrel, I’m on my own. I also love when he runs over and leans up against me in hopes of a belly rub. He is a true blessing.

Something to care for

Even if we have some heavy issues, caring for a dog that relies on us can take our mind off of our troubles.

Our conversations

I talk to Bandit constantly. I tell him stories, my opinions, and what my day has been like. He is the best listener in the house. Releasing your thoughts is emotionally healing.

No judgments

Bandit doesn’t care if I made a fool of myself in front of 20 people, or if I failed in some way. As long as I fill his dish and pet him, everything is fine.

touch

Touch is healing and it’s something we all need. Being able to rub a belly or scratch a head makes you feel calmer.

Laughter

Bandit will run into the woods, find the largest stick, and then begin his attempt at subduing it. This includes growling at the stick, and twisting, pulling, and biting until the stick is a mere twig. I can’t stop laughing when he does it, and laughter is great medicine.

Bandit will always keep me on my toes, but he heals my emotions like nothing else can.

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I am passionate about running, parenting, education, and self-help information. I enjoy writing articles that will offer readers the information needed to help them in some way. I recently retired from teaching French and Spanish for forty years. I run every day and have done all kinds of races from 5ks to ultra-marathons. I have three children and three grandchildren. I write for several magazines in my area, I am a contributor and in charge of the Pinterest board for a parenting magazine called Screamin Mamas, and I have a second book about to be released through Loving, Healing Press called 101 Tips to Ease Your Burdens.

Kennesaw, GA
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"Opinion" When your dog plays all-in

I am sure that everyone who saw the news piece with the dog that ran into the gorilla’s cage was on the edge of their chair praying that the dog made it to safety. My second thought was my dog Bandit could have been the dog in there. His attitude is, “Oh look, an opening! I’m going in!” The dog in the gorilla cage is proof of how dangerous that can be. When I let him out in the morning, Bandit doesn’t calmly go down the stairs. He takes them five at a time, and sprints into the woods, unless an unsuspecting neighbor is out enjoying the morning calm. Then he tears over to them, leaping on them and trying to lick them into submission. I follow in his wake, apologizing to anyone he has encountered. Have you seen the ad where the woman is using her visa card to buy things to replace because her dog has destroyed them, and she is constantly saying I’m sorry? That’s me without the visa card. Anyways, rushing head-on into the unknown territory can be dangerous for a dog, so my dog trainer friend, Lynn came to my rescue again. It is fairly easy to teach your dog to stay near you when you are concerned about safety. Put some treats in your pocket and say the command, “Stay with me., or “With me.” Praise the dog when he does it and keep working on it until you know he has learned the trick. Bandit forgets sometimes, but seriously, there are so many things to sniff and people to meet. I just want him to do it safely.

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