People are constantly poking fun at my obsession with my pup Samson.
When we first brought Samson home, June 1st 2012, I thought this would only last a week or a month before my husband realized it was too much. Too expensive, too worrisome and just not practical. A week later, I was hooked. I remember those first few nights clearly.
Earlier that day my husband said — let’s go look at some puppies. I thought, “what a fun idea! A nice little date!” Little did I know his mind was made up and we were coming home with one. We searched the store for “hypoallergenic” dogs, or ones that don’t shed. We narrowed it down to the two cheapest ones, and one’s we both liked. I walked by a wheaten terrier, passing him off as not cute enough. (What was I thinking??) We played with him a little, and then also some smaller dogs that didn’t shed. I think they were morkies. If we were getting a dog, and paying the handsome price, I said it would have to be one we could go out and play with at the park. So — we decided on this Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. He was 16 weeks old. We left to get some coffee and think about our decsiosn, and discovered that our car had gotten a ticket. So instead of taking that as I sign to leave — we took it as a sign to buy this puppy. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
In a recent article in “The Week,” the author explained that her relationship with her dog reminded her of “Woody Allen’s joke about relationships at the end of Annie Hall. “A man goes to a psychiatrist, complaining that his brother thinks he’s a chicken, and when the psychiatrist suggests getting the brother some help, the man replies: “I would, but I need the eggs.” An outsider looking at the place of dogs in our culture might think we were all suffering from some kind of mass delusion—but we definitely need the eggs.” (The Week, John Homans, 2012).
The author explains that, “at a chemical level, it may not matter that the dog is not a person. An increasing amount of evidence points to oxytocin, the all-purpose bonding hormone, as the crucial mediator in these effects—exactly the same mediator that underlies many significant human contacts, including the bond between mother and child.” (The Week, John Homans, 2012).
Mr. Homans explains that a study in 2009 found oxytocin was released after interactions between people and their dogs, especially the more we looked our dogs in the eye. “The gaze is fundamental to the interaction between mother and infant—it’s the basic communicative building block. A dog’s willingness to gaze at a human is also one of the basic differences between dogs and wolves.”
“Dogs actually do pretty well at providing our needed eggs.” Mr. Homans continues. “A long and fascinating thread of research, after three decades, has demonstrated that dogs produce measurable positive health effects on people. Though many aspects to this research are still disputed, the stress-reducing power of dogs is increasingly acknowledged.”
The article goes on to explain the scientific studies that show how having a pet, and a dog specifically, is better for health, for children’s empathy, stress, and for picking up women.
My love of Samson has definitely grown over the time he’s been “mine.” It has come with added stressors of training, dealing with other people’s allergies and fears, cleaning up messes, worrying about Samson’s health, and paying for his vet bills. But I look at his presence as a cheaper form of therapy. Dogs to give back, unbeknownst to them. I always have someone to talk to. Petting him and seeing his joy brings my mood up substantially when I am feeling down. I want to take long walks and runs with Samson. I love him — I don’t love all dogs however. I am very picky. And the connection one has between you and your own dog, is unexplainable.
And I get to have these fun times: