Like no other time of the year, the Holiday Season inspires weeks of activities that are 3 parts happy to 1 part bah-humbug. Busy-ness often overwhelms the time allotted for our celebrations. But tucked inside the flurry are moments of personal and family reflection and thanks for the gifts of the heart that flourish year in, and year out.
Like those gifts we receive from having a dog in our lives.
The benefits that come with dog ownership may not be news at this point. Maybe it’s just the season that helps us see them for the gifts that they are. So, in honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, let’s count them all, starting with the least:
12. The Gift of Status
According to an AKC survey*, 11% of dog owners see their dogs as status symbols; owning a particular breed of dog makes the owners feel unique. (No one asked what the dog thought!)
16% of dog owners believe the work done by their dog is a benefit; interestingly, it’s been my experience that the working dogs themselves get great satisfaction from the jobs they were bred or trained to do, and for being of service to their human.
10. The Gift of Recreational Companionship
16% of dog owners delight in sharing the pursuit of hunting with their dogs (and I’m sure the dogs delight equally!).
9. The Gift of Community
Connecting with other dog owners on a social level, sharing similar dog-related interests and feeling like a member of the larger dog-lover community is a top benefit for 19% of dog owners surveyed.
Dog events used to be just about conformation or maybe about Halloween costumes. But the increased popularity of agility and performance based competitions – at all levels – has attracted a growing number of dog owners. 23% of dog owners thought participation in dog events was an important benefit.
7. The Gift of Ease
24% of the dog owners thought the convenience or ease in owning a dog was a gift…as opposed to kids, maybe? Regardless of how we believe we need to care for them, dogs are just happy to have the basics – as long as they are with the people they love!
6. The Gift of Wisdom
Having a dog as a member of the family is a great way to teach kids the meaning of responsibility – not to mention devotion, loyalty and love. 34% of dog owners recognized the importance of dog as teacher.
5. The Gift of Teamwork
Working together to achieve training or behavioral goals requires patience and practice between dog owners and dogs. Beyond the specific accomplishments, it creates the foundation of a partnership that lasts a lifetime. 38% of dog owners valued the satisfaction that results as the partnership is forged.
4. The Gift of Wellness
72% of dog owners agreed that owning a dog is good for their health. It’s a 3 for 1 gift, as far as I’m concerned – do the math. 1 dog = wellness * mind + body + spirit. Tough to beat!
3. The Gift of Family
No surprise! 88% of dog owners benefited from treating their dogs like family or a child…evoking a truly loving and trusting relationship that benefits both parties!
2. The Gift of Love, Loyalty and Companionship
1. The Gift of the Heart
This one wasn’t included in the AKC survey…it’s one I added. It’s about the effort, labor and risk that many caring people freely give – not on behalf of their own dog…but for another, without a family, or the apparent means to survive.
As dog people, our love and concern transcends just our dog…yet it’s something we learned because of just one dog. The opportunity to transform that love into action when needed is one of the greatest gifts – ever!
Would you add another gift? Which one matters most to you? Let me know here, or on Facebook.