You see them everywhere—being walked by owners across campus, running up and down the lawn near the chemistry and physical sciences buildings, sometimes even stashed into bags and snuck into lecture halls. Either way you look at it, dogs are ubiquitous on campus.
There’s a reason we have Dog Therapy Day every quarter before finals. Playing with puppies, stroking their fur (or hair), letting them nuzzle us with their noses, groveling for even a tiny speck of affection from them—it makes us feel as warm and fuzzy as dogs are. Dogs give us unconditional love without expecting much of anything in return, and that, in turn, makes us feel special. It makes us feel loved and appreciated, even if the ones who love us aren’t exactly of our species.
It’s a biological fact that dogs make us happier and healthier. According to CNN, people’s blood pressure drops when petting dogs, especially if the dog in question is known and loved. Through the release of endorphins, petting a dog eases the perception of pain, for which endorphins are responsible. This release of endorphins is what makes Dog Therapy Day so successful every quarter—people are so preoccupied with finals and end-of-the-quarter blues that simply cuddling with these fluffy little beasts makes us feel so much better.
As previously stated, the thing about dogs that’s so appealing is their unconditional love for their owners (or “parents,” as we like to call ourselves). No matter what you do to them, no matter how long you’re away from them, they’ll always come running back to you, with a huge smile (or, at least what counts for a smile), ready to smother you with kisses (licks) and hugs (jumping onto their hind legs to put their paws on you).
The more time you spend with a dog, the more you think of the little fluffy beast as your own son or daughter. You’ll feed them, clean them, scold them when they pee in the house or bark incessantly at random bystanders or eat grass, and take care of them when they’re sick—one of the most heartbreaking things about owning a dog. When your dog gets sick, and there’s nothing you can do but go to a veterinarian and hope for the best, it’s as if your own child is sick, except there’s even less you can do to help. And when they die—that’s another story entirely.
Dogs don’t live as long as we humans do, like most other household pets. When they reach their teen years, they’re practically senior citizens and may, at times, require your undivided attention. Watching their bodies slowly fail them is even more heartbreaking than watching them while they’re sick, because you know, even if you don’t want to admit it, that there isn’t much time left for them, and any moment could be their last.
Dogs are like children to us, from their puppy years to their teen years, and we find ourselves unconsciously caring for them like we would for our own human children. They may drive us crazy sometimes with periods of incessant demands for attention, or with the inclination to eat absolutely anything regardless of where it came from or where it has been, but we dog owners (parents) love our dogs, and always will.
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