The Hidden Benefits Of Having A Dog

Floor cleaner, counsellor, fashion consultant, security guard...

I heard an interesting fact this week: the first person who is going to live to 150 years of age has already been born, and they grew up (or are growing) up with dogs.

It wasn't the worry that it may be me who was to blow out 150 candles (I don't even know how many Super accounts I have), that caught my attention, it was the fact that this person is around dogs.

There are constant emerging studies that spruik the death of anti-bacteria wipes whilst waving pro 'germs' flags, which is equally gross and interesting. Then, I looked at my dog and was overcome with gratitude for so many other things than her just smooshing germs on me.

My Mum always said to me that every kid needs a dog, and every dog needs a kid, and this is why:

They keep you active.

My little Lab is not so little in age. She was a family dog, and there were numerous arguments when we all left the nest... I didn't win the battle and she ventured off to my brother's beer-infested share house for a while. I did, however, win the overall war and she now spends her days covering my carpet with hair.

What I learnt from the 'did not have her' vs the 'have her' experience, is that during those long months where she was probably eating Weetbix for breakfast, I didn't visit a single park, I didn't rush to the beach after work and I didn't get up at 6am in Antarctic weather to go for a walk. I was also five kilograms heavier -- go figure.

Helping you out when you drop stuff.

If I could change one first-world problem in my life, I would go back in time and invent dishes that don't need to be washed.

Due to my avid hatred of doing dishes, I choose instead to be the messiest cook alive and try to cram as many ingredients as possible in to one pan. And, it really doesn't matter. Why? Because I only ever must clean that one pan, my dog takes care of the rest for me.

Sometimes, I even grate carrots straight onto the kitchen floor.

Giving you something to talk about.

Despite the alcohol-induced haze and the New Year countdown, the first conversation I had with my now partner was as below:

Me: 'So, what do you do?'

Him: 'I'm a big-shot Event Manager.'

Me: 'That's pretty lame. I have a dog though.'

My dog not only secured me a boyfriend, and eventually a roof over my head, she's saved me in countless awkward small-talk conversations -- I've gotten her pancreatitis story down to a delightfully hilarious four minutes of fun.

Protecting the perimeter.

My dog sleeps inside and, being a Labrador, she's pretty chill. I'm pretty sure we have had house inspections when no one was home and she hasn't even gotten off the couch. I have no doubt that she would make a ladder out of furniture to let a robber in.

Despite this, I just know she's watching for the bogeyman every time I need to get up during the night.

Not judging.

Dogs can't talk, which is brilliant. If mine did, I'm sure she would tell anyone about me eating a punnet of ice cream for dinner then hiding it. She'd also tell them how I make her pick what I wear by the tilting of her head, and she would probably tell them that she's sick of me pouring my heart out to her when no one's home. For the moment, she can't do anything about it.

And sometimes, when I feel like the most alone and isolated person in the universe, my dog will still launch at me the second I open the door like nothing else in the world matters.

They just make you a better human.

My best friend embarked on a new relationship and all was going swimmingly. The reason she left was not because he had an overbearing family, it was for one reason that is so important.

It went like this...

Her: 'I can't fault him, he picks me up when I'm down. He goes above and beyond to make me happy. But, he despises dogs. And no good person ever disliked dogs. So, I'm out'.

I cry when I read dog trade stories. I cry when I see old dogs. I cry when I imagine dogs getting old.

I automatically know that a guy who is dressed terribly, and is either extremely hung over or still drunk, that is also walking his dog at 6am is a good person.

I care about someone and their happiness more than my own, and that someone is not a human, nor are they biologically related to me. And that's pretty special.