The ROI of having a pet (Hint: it’s huge)

Four amazing dogs
Four amazing dogs, and best friends

When my friend Leslie proposed the topic for the first round robin for a select group of bloggers, I couldn’t help but smile. It was a slam dunk: “Is having a pet worth it?”

Where do I begin?

Asking someone who has had dogs since she was six years old and who is known to many people as Corgi-obsessed if having a pet is worth it may be like asking anyone if they need air to breathe. You may think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Take one look at my Instagram feed, my Tumblr, or previous posts about the passing of two of my dogs (here and here), and it will be easy to see that my answer is an emphatic and absolute YES.

As my dad said the other day, “It’s why they say ‘dog’ is ‘God’ spelled backwards.” I actually hadn’t heard that phrase before, but I do believe it’s true. And I’m not religious. Despite what the research says, I firmly believe dogs have and express emotions similar to humans (I’ve seen my dogs laugh, cry, and grumble). I do believe they are our best friends, perhaps even more faithful and dedicated than humans. And I do believe that dogs serve a unique purpose in providing us with joy, showing us the depths of love, and serving us with loyalty and unconditional devotion. The number of times I have laughed while watching my dogs play, or cried to see them in pain, or hugged them fiercely when I needed comfort, are too many to count. Dogs are great listeners, and they keep us active. They don’t let us get too into a funk or lose track of time because they have to be fed and walked and put to bed. They are constant reminders of the simple pleasures in life, like laying in the cool grass on a summer day, lounging on our backs and dreaming, and making time for play. They are sensitive to pain, and eager to please — just as we are. At the end of the day, they are happy to see their loved ones, and grateful for a warm bed — also like us.

Studies have shown again and again that having a dog boost our mental, emotional, and physical health. And although it may seem like getting a new dog soon after one has passed would be too difficult, people commonly find themselves looking for a new four-legged family member pretty quickly (we have, more than once). I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that a beloved dog is not only a companion, but truly becomes a part of the family forever.

As I have never owned a pet other than a dog (a total of five so far), I can’t speak to the benefits of having a cat (I really don’t like them anyway) or a fish or rabbit. But I do know plenty of people who have also enjoyed owning these other animals. My personal opinion, of course, is that dogs reign supreme.

In case you still aren’t convinced, read 13 Reasons Why A Dog Will Make Your Life So Much Better, which is validated by adorable gifs of dogs, including my dream combination of Tom Hanks and a Corgi (Corgi count in this article: 3).

This post is dedicated in honor of Rocky, Harrison, and Casey, and to my current companions, McGee and Abbey.

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To read the rest of the responses to this month’s round robin question, visit the following blogs (and come back in a month for the next topic):

Leslie Farnsworth: http://lesliefarnsworth.com

Joan Johnson: http://onefishtaco.blogspot.com/

William Pora: http://williampora.com

Rebecca Harvey: http://bayoucitypostcards.blogspot.com/

James McPherson: http://jalmcpherson.com/

Jon Lundell: http://therealmil.blogspot.com/

So it begins…life in the country

The view from the back of the house
The view from the back of the house

I’ve been on the West Coast for exactly a week, and in my (parents’) new home in Paso Robles for less than 24 hours. A slight hiccup means my stuff still isn’t arriving until Monday, but when it all gets here and I start a new work routine, it’s going to start feeling a little less like vacation and more like reality.

corgi signBecause so far, it hasn’t quite hit me yet. A weekend in Napa to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of my friend followed by a couple of days in San Francisco with another dear friend who moved out here in 2011 has been a stellar introduction to my new life as a California girl. Imagine trying to answer people when they ask, “So, where are you from?” I used to have trouble explaining my Louisiana to Ohio connection, but now to throw DC in the mix, especially right at the transition, is another story. Because I did in fact end up making DC my home, and I felt more in tune to it than I ever did in Ohio, despite living in the latter for nearly three times as long.

First order of business upon arrival to the “farm” was greeting the Corgis of course. My boy McGee is the same as always, and it’s wonderful to be with him again. And Abbey, oh Abbey, she’s a just a little ball of fluff and cuteness that I can barely describe. To be with puppies again is so much fun! And exhausting, for sure. Leftovers for dinner and a glass of wine topped off the first night, and I went to bed with the windows open in my room, all decked out already with some personal touches from my parents.

New coop door!
New coop door!

Today started with a great long walk with Dad and the dogs in the neighborhood, and I got to see just how many great hill workouts I’ll get in. My runs won’t be boring around here. Life on a farm has its duties — I helped Dad build a door to the chicken coop, and later I’ll pick some tomatoes from the garden, and maybe we’ll go to a wine tasting nearby.

But what’s most important is what’s happening right now: the dogs are laying on the floor, I’m in a chair writing, and my parents are nearby doing their own work. Beautiful scenery is all around us, and I get to wear stretchy pants and drink Dad’s fresh coffee. Life’s pretty good in the country so far.

As I settle in to my new home and figure out this journey, I hope you’ll stay tuned. Readers of my blog know I’m not really a daily update type of blogger, but I did want to share this first one with you from California. And if you really can’t get your fill of the Corgis, you can start following corgisandwine.tumblr.com, for lots of updates on… well, Corgis and wine.

A day at the new office
A day at the new office

Another goodbye to another brother

Such a sweet boy

This post was supposed to be about my trip to Costa Rica. That changed when I talked to my mom yesterday morning and I learned that Harrison, my ailing 13-year-old dog, had been put to sleep while I was away.

For months I had been dreading the news. Maybe I had been dreading it ever since I received the phone call about Casey a year and a half ago, also on a Sunday, also when I wasn’t expecting it. Maybe I had a feeling as I got on the plane to Costa Rica that I would come back and hear that my little boy, not so much a boy anymore, had lived all he could live. Maybe I knew that by booking my trip only hours before I would have instead booked a flight to San Diego, that it was fate that I wouldn’t be there to say goodbye to my brother in his last days. Maybe it was best that the internet was spotty, and that I last talked to my mom via email the night before she and my dad took Harrison to the vet.

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Me & My Shadow

Always finding the crook

One year ago today, my sweet little Casey had to be put down because lung cancer had suddenly filled his chest, robbing him of breath and comfort. One year ago (and it was on a Sunday), I was milling around the arts booths at Adam’s Morgan Day with some friends, enjoying the weather, the sights, the sounds, the happiness — when life changed, and instead of being happy, I was devastated.

Yesterday was Adam’s Morgan Day. Every mention of the festival, every time I hear the words, I cringe inside. I think of that moment, that exact moment my mom’s voice on the other end of the line told me Casey was gone. Every time I hang out in Adam’s Morgan, which is not that often given I live and work near it, I get a funny feeling. I immediately remember that day, I remember the pain ripping through me, the world spinning away, numbly being put into a cab and sent home alone, to cradle my stuffed corgi instead of the real one who was like a brother.

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Through the bad…the good shines through

A week ago at this time I was sobbing on my bed, curled into a ball, hugging my stuffed Casey, after hearing from my mom that the real Casey, my corgi, was gone forever. This afternoon, football is on the TV and my boyfriend is laying on the bed while I type, his presence alone an immense comfort this past weekend.

The first couple of days of this past week were rough. But little by little, day by day, it became easier to continue on with life, as it always does. I went to a farewell happy hour for a colleague, and laughed and enjoyed bar food and beer. I talked to my dad night after night on the phone, reliving memories of Casey, sharing pictures we had collected over the years. I talked to my mom, assuring her that her trip to Miraval was the right thing to have done, that it will help her in the end, no matter how hard it was to leave my dad and Harrison at home again so soon. Friends and family had many words of kindness for me, as well as people I don’t know so well, and people I hadn’t seen in years. I went to another colleague’s farewell dinner, and laughed and bonded and ate some more, enjoying every moment of being with my team, loving what we do while at our desks during the day and knowing that any of us would do anything for the each other. And then on Friday, my boyfriend arrived for the weekend, the last bit of comfort I needed to make me realize that even with this loss, there is still life to live.

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