When we first adopted my beloved miniature poodle, Jersey, she was an energetic 1 year-old dog and I was a full-time working woman.
To ease my worries of her being bored and restless throughout the days while my husband and I worked, I woke up early and we played fetch for about 30 minutes in our living room each day.
Jersey has been a natural retriever since the day I brought her home. Our morning ritual was for me to sit on the floor, throw her favorite toy across the room or up a half-flight of stairs and have her bring it back. Throw-run-retrieve, throw-run-retrieve, throw-run-retrieve. Jersey could always be counted on to find her toy, and she counted on me to be there to throw it again.
After a few days of this routine, I realized that my morning puppy playtime lead to an almost meditative trance for me. When I was throwing that toy for my dog, all I was concerned with was her finding it and bringing it back to me. My worries about my pregnancy, my day, meetings, appointments and more disappeared and usually even waited to return until hours later!
Nearly six years later, I'm now a stay-at-home mom. Jersey doesn't need the morning exercise routine like she used to, but she still provides much-needed relief from many of my everyday stresses.
By Jersey's choice, she's rarely out of my sight, and sometimes a quick glance in her direction is enough to make me breath a little easier.
If she learns a new trick or does something especially cute, my focus turns almost entirely to her and I'm able to relax.
By the time the day is nearly done and my husband and I sit down together to relax for a bit, Jersey never fails to join us. She finds the softest spot available–an afghan, a folded sweater, a basket of clean laundry–curls up and lets out a huge sigh of what I hope is contentedness. Her sigh sometimes triggers one of my own, and my body relaxes, too!
The unconditional love given by a dog can help others with illnesses or other medical needs. I've never known anyone who's experienced the benefit of a therapy dog, but, given what my dog does for my mental well-being on a daily basis, I can totally understand their effectiveness!