Let me introduce you to Wilma. Here she is sniffing the air in our garden……
I grew up with dogs as a member of the family whereas my wife grew up having cats. I always expressed my wish for us to have a family dog but there have been numerous reasons that it simply did not happen.
Last night as I sat in the playroom of our house, my son was playing merrily with his trucks, my daughter with her dollies, and I was sat on the sofa stroking the newest member of our family; 8 week old Cockapoo, Wilma. Here she is having a moment’s peace….
Though I had wanted a breed of dog similar to the breed of Collie that I had grown up with, the Cockapoo is awesome for my wife as it does not shed hair and so does not aggravate allergies. They are a very playful breed, very loving and eventually she will be able to come and join me on my training runs. Close friends of ours brought their Cockapoo on one of our Summer camping trips and we all fell in love with him, so when one of our neighbours and friends mentioned that they were picking up a Cockapoo puppy last week, and told us that there were others in the litter, we did not need much persuading in the end.
It is a major responsibility and lifestyle decision, so it got a lot of careful consideration but even the last few days of cleaning up wee and poo from the kitchen floor have not dampened our enthusiasm for the newest member of our family.
I got the final say on her name. She is named Wilma, not after her namesake Mrs Flintstone, but after Buck Rogers’ good friend and colleague Colonel Wilma Deering.
My children adore Wilma the puppy. They are really learning loads of wonderful and valuable lessons; how to be empathetic, how to be careful and caring. My 4 year old son sings to her and on the first day we had her, he told her he was going to the toilet “I just going to the toilet Wilma, you be alright?” It was so sweet. My 3 year old daughter just want to cuddle Wilma all the time and they all get so excited upon seeing each other in the mornings! Here’s a selfie I took with her….
A pet dog offers a family much more than just something else to coo over and go gooey around. I wrote about dogs being therapeutic earlier this year, and here in the UK, the popular mental health foundation charity have written about how pets can aid mental health.
It was really important to me that I consider both the welfare of my children and the dog when deciding whether to have one or not. So I researched. The evidence suggests that not only do children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma, but many learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having a dog as a family pet. We’re noticing some of these things already.
I also read that having family dog can help children feel less anxious and more secure if the parents are not around. Having the love and companionship of a loyal dog can make a child feel important and help him or her develop a positive self-image, and the cockapoo breed are typically characterised by being very loyal and loving. Children who are emotionally attached to their dog are often better at developing relationships with other people too. Some studies that I discovered even showed that dogs can help calm hyperactive children – “this is just what we need” I thought to myself!
Playing with a dog can even be a doorway to learning for a child. As well as stimulating a child’s imagination they get to observe directly the process and subsequent rewards of training a dog and can teach children so many lessons. Like leaving her alone when she is having a little sleep on the rug….
Just as children can benefit greatly, for us adults, a family dog comes with some pretty powerful mental (and physical) health benefits?
Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Perhaps most importantly, though, a dog can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.
With such an interest in mental health as I have, the research that shows dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets was fascinating.Likewise, they offer much to those with anxiety and stress; a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.
Clearly, I have some new found bias, but the evidence is strong to support my obvious bias. Today was really an opportunity for me to show off some pictures of our new addition, and the fact that there are so many other potential benefits to health too…. Well, how could I not write about that today??!!
I’ll be back as soon as I get a break in my schedule of cleaning the floors here….