For all of you dog lovers out there, I am sure that you will agree that dogs add dimension to life. I have two Dachshunds, Ferg and Annie. They are the light of my life. If I am down, I know that I can scoop them up in my arms for a hug and an instant “pick me up.” Curiously, my dogs have taught me a lot about life. How you might ask?
How can you not love that face?
Each morning, I snuggle up with my puppies on the couch. Annie insists on crawling completely onto my lap, rolling over and being held like a baby. She loves to be loved! You know what? I love to love her! Our morning moments feel therapeutic in a way. Instant stress relief. Why? I was surprised to read on WebMD that daily puppy love can lower blood pressure and cut down on high levels of stress hormones. How cool is that?
Every day when I get home from work, I am greeted by two eager, furry faces. My welcome wagon! Without missing a beat, Ferg inevitably picks up his “baby” (a stuffed animal he claimed as his own, much to my daughter’s dismay) and drops it at my feet. I take great joy in playing with him; throwing the stuffed toy back and forth until we are both exhausted. Exhausted, yet invigorated. Playful interaction with my pups force me to focus on the present moment; when that happens, the drama of the day melts away. I am no longer fixated on the past or obsessing about the future. All I need is to throw that wonderful little toy “one more time!”
9:30 PM. That is Ferg and Annie’s bedtime. I didn’t set that time. They did. Every night they find me and sit at my feet with expectant eyes. Those eyes wrap me in a warm invisible hug and tell me “Time for bed.” At bedtime, they grab their play toys, proceed to their blankets, and wait to be tucked in. Sleep is important to them, as it should be for all of us. I was surprised to learn that proper sleep decreases the incidence of many disastrous health conditions that include heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Wow…sleep must be a priority in life.
Yes, going into the New Year, I will be giving well deserved “kudos” to my canine companions. Mother Nature has whispered in their ears and they are acting upon it. Now, it is time for me to listen. This year, I am determined to LOVE a lot more, have FUN on a daily basis, and make SLEEP a necessary priority each and every night. My pups have reminded me today that my health and well-being surely depends on it. Life is about living not surviving.
Dr. Shelley Plumb
Going into a new beautiful year, what will you be doing to improve your health?