Pets: 7 Ways Dogs Enhance Family Relationships


Those of you who know me understand that I'm afraid of animals. The fear I have for dogs, cats, horses, and other animals is illogical, difficult to understand, and downright ridiculous. But, aren't most fears?

When I married Troy Pattee 15 years ago, he only had one requirement: that I let him get a dog. Figuring he wasn't serious, I said yes immediately and quickly forgot about his request. But, once we were in our own home and had a yard, the marketing literature started appearing. He had done his research and found that Labrador Retrievers were friendly and potentially the best dog for someone who was afraid of dogs to have. He left fliers around the house with puppy dog eyes staring into mine. And after a few months, way too much wasted paper, and several visits to a family farm where they raised Labs, he finally talked me into it.

Two boys sitting on the grass with a Labrador Retriever

He taught Trooper and later his sister, Parley, to not jump up on me and to be gentle with me. And we enjoyed upwards of 12 years with them as part of our family. No one cried more than I did when Trooper died. I had no idea how attached I had become to our pets.

Since the passing of both dogs, my two boys have requested non stop for us to get another pet and after much research, Troy finally proposed an indoor, smaller dog. And three weeks ago, they came home with a Beagle. This was on the fourth anniversary of our first #gno Twitter party, so we aptly named him Hahstag.

Two boys playing with a little Beagle

7 Benefits of Why Families Should Own a Dog

Pets, with their unconditional loving ways, bring a warm and welcome spirit into any family, even when one of the owners is afraid of most animals.

Purina Dog Chow recently did a study of how pets impact a family's life. While I still have a fear of animals, I have experienced most of these benefits firsthand:

  1. Dogs help people cope through difficult times.
  2. Dogs teach children how to be responsible.
  3. Dogs accept you for who you are.
  4. Dogs help you connect with people.
  5. Households with dogs foster imagination and creativity and their family is exposed to new experiences.
  6. Dog families spend an average 15 times per month outdoors, compared to only 11 times per month in non-dog families.
  7. Children with dogs are 20 percent more likely to play outside every day than children without dog.

If you are considering getting a pet, the benefits are astounding.

Do you own a pet? What kind? What is your favorite family pet memory?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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