Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs? Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
Yes, we got a black lab puppy a week ago. Welcome River. Some of you may ask, why? Others of you will know. Dogs are joyful, energetic, a lot of work, yet a warm and wonderful companion on a cold night. We had two yellow labs while our children were growing. Maggie and Mia brought lots of happiness to my family, and lots of annoyance to me, but after all, I had three young children. Adding two dogs did not help with the chaos, but that is another story. I admit I was not a dog lover.
When James got his black lab, Boh, the summer after Mia died, I literally did not have to do anything, at first. When he left for his sophomore year of college, Boh did not get packed. Thus, Jim and I ended up with Boh until James was able to get an apartment his junior year. Did you know Jim is a dog whisperer. I am not kidding. Jim loves dogs and has a stern but loving way he speaks with them, so they listen and follow his lead. It is amazing to watch, and I became a dog lover that year with Boh. It is amazing how much you can appreciate a dog when you are an empty-nester.
The relationship between humans and dogs is age old and dogs have played an important role in the history of civilization. They were among the first domesticated animals, and were important in hunter-gatherer societies as hunting partners, and protection against predators. According to genetic studies, modern day domesticated dogs originated in China, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
River joined us last week as a 7 week old. We got him from former Kent School First Grade teacher Kay Sweezey of Double Creek Kennels. He is so little – I had forgotten. We are enjoying getting to know him and he is settling in quite beautifully. He has been to Kent School with me a few times as he is going to be the #schooldog (you can follow him at @adventuresofriverinctown on Instagram). River joins the ranks of Duchess, our founding Headmistress Joan Merriken’s black lab, and Natty Bo, Interim Head of School Joan Flaherty’s black lab. Our students are in love.
River is my new obsession. Dogs don’t just hold your heart; they can make it stronger. Studies show that having a dog is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health. Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals that can help calm you and contribute to well-being. Pets can also help prevent depression. For me, I am looking forward to the added exercise. Earlier this year, a study in the journal Gerontologist found that older adults who walked dogs experienced “lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise.” This is perfect as I plan to stay mobile and healthy for a long time.
Gotta go walk River….