If the fact that between 3 and 4 million perfectly healthy, cute and deserving pets are euthanized each year in the United States isn't enough reason to join the ranks of proud dog owners, it turns out that the bond between dog and human runs so deep that it can in fact make you a healthier individual.
If you're looking for that extra push to bring a new member into your family - even (or especially) if you're currently a one-woman operation - we've got it. Of course, dogs are a major responsibility - but therein lies some of the rewards. Feeding, walking and petting in exchange for unconditional love; I think we get the better end of this deal.
For Your Lifespan
Research has proven that owning a dog increases your lifespan. Studies have shown that dog companionship lowers your blood pressure, lowers your cholesterol and, as such, enhances your health. Dogs can sniff out some forms of cancer and recognize early signs of seizures, enabling them to warn you to take preventative measures.
This in and of itself can vastly improve your health. Dogs need walking - every day, a couple times - providing both of you with a healthy dose of fresh air, exercise and maybe even some all-important vitamin D.
For Your Children
If you have children, consider that research has found kids in pet-owning families will have better social skills, better speech, better co-ordination, more confidence and will be less likely to suffer from allergies. Plus, children who interact with dogs learn how to be gentle and loving and to appreciate animals; they will be more likely to grow up and become conscious, caring individuals who advocate for human, animal and environmental rights.
For Your Social Life
We all deal with bouts of loneliness every now and again. Get back in the game, and fall in love with a dog in the meantime. It's no secret that dogs break down social barriers; everyone is more likely to approach you if you've got your leashed (and adorable!) dog with you. This is particularly important for those at risk of social isolation, such as seniors or those with physical disabilities.
Not sure if you're ready? Many communities have a program called "Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound" where you can walk a dog from a shelter, giving both of you a bit of non-commital companionship and exercise. Check to see what kind of volunteer opportunities are available at your local shelter, spend time with some pups and fall in love with one of those guys up for adoption. Then, you'll be ready.
Already play for the dog team? Here's Your Best Friend's Best Dog Food.