We've all seen the reports of studies that show how having a dog can help you live a longer, healthier life. Of course, this is probably due to many factors, from having to get out and walk once in a while to just having a companion to care for and be loved by.
I'd have to say that one of my favorite aspects of dog companionship -- one that inevitably brings a smile to my face no matter what mood I'm in -- is the wholeheartedly enthusiastic greeting.
I was reminded of the power of that greeting just this morning, after having slept in a bit. My husband got up earlier, took the dogs out and shut the bedroom door so I could continue to sleep uninterrupted. When I finally dragged myself out of bed about a half hour later, I opened the bedroom door and received one of those bouncy, tail-wagging, joyful greetings that tells you just how much you are appreciated. You'd think I'd been gone for hours. I guess, to a dog, sleep is going away to another place. They spend a lot of time there, so they know it well.
My first experiences of the day tend to forecast the kind of day I'm going to have. It's the "right/wrong side of the bed" phenomenon. Being reminded, first thing, that I have two canine beings who are absolutely thrilled to see me is not only a stroke to my groggy morning ego, but also a deep, heartfelt reminder that no matter what happens for the rest of the day, I have warm-hearted beings who care about me.
Of course, I know this about my husband too, even without the enthusiastic morning greeting (he's not enthusiastic about anything until he's had his morning coffee). But with the dogs it's much more immediate. Dogs wake up demonstrating how much they appreciate you, no matter what side of the bed you (or they) got up on.
This morning's enthusiastic greeting made my day. No matter what happens for the rest of the day, I will have that first memory of looking down at those shiny brown eyes and wagging tails saying "welcome to the waking world, we've been waiting for you!"
If that's not enough to help me live longer, it's certainly enough to make living every day worthwhile.