Give yourself a gift this holiday season — the gift of companionship! Adopting a dog may save a life and provide you countless benefits. “Pets have a way of putting a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally, and physically beneficial. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment[,]” according to the Humane Society’s Top Five Reasons to Adopt (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/adopt/tips/top_reasons_adopt.html). Just ask a dog owner. Providing a home to a furry little four-legged friend is far from a selfless act.
In fact, the Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale has recognized the positive effects a dog may have on the lives of law school students. (See http://library.law.yale.edu/blogs/news/2012/09/19/meet-monty.) “Attending law school can sometimes be stressful. Studies indicate that, particularly in the first year of school, when incomers are adjusting to new teaching methods, materials, external and internal expectations, and even geographic locations, students experience elevated stress levels.” In response to this observation and in an effort to implement “creative and non-traditional services” to its students, the Law Library added to its collection General Montgomery (“Monty”), a small brown cross-breed terrier and certified therapy dog. According to the website, students may book time to hang out with Monty to “feed him cookies and scratch his ears and just generally have some lovely dog time.” The reason? There is evidence to show that time spent with dogs results in “increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being.”
But keep in mind that dog ownership is more than wagging tails and walks in the park. Before you jump into pet parenthood, take time to consider whether you are ready. Look for books and articles that have been published to address these concerns. For instance, the American Kennel Club published a list of important considerations for would-be dog owners that should provide you some guidance. (http://www.akc.org/future_dog_owner/ready_for_dog.cfm). Among these considerations are topics such as time, money, and patience. For self-assessment, visit the Pet University website and take the “Are You Ready?” quiz for potential “dog parents” (http://www.petuniversity.com/dogs/becoming-a-dog-parent/are-you-ready.php). As you will find, this decision should not be made lightly; it should be made responsibly and with regard to your current lifestyle and willingness and capacity to commit to caring for an animal.
While a dog can enrich your life, pet ownership is a serious commitment. You will be the sole provider of his or her basic needs. In return, you will receive the unconditional love and affection that only a dog can provide. For a list of pet adoption agencies in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, visit http://www.charlotteonestop.com/Pets.html.