|Liv and Layla|
Recently, a study was conducted that showed children who were born to a family with dogs (OK, even cats) were more healthy than their counterparts.
According to CNN.com, the Finland-based study followed 397 children from birth to age 1 and counted how often they interacted with a dog or a cat each week. The children with more contact with these animals tended to have less childhood infections such as respiratory illnesses and ear infections. Animals that spend time outside bring in microbes that boost a child’s immune system, according to the study. Dogs were even better than cats (but we know that) because they usually spend more time outside.
|Liv meeting Dotty for the first time|
Since birth, Liv has been to the doctor just once (besides well-baby checkups), and she probably didn’t really need to go then. (Blame the first time mom that freaks out when her baby gets her first cold.) I tend to agree with the study, but regardless of whether or not it proves true as these children grow older, dogs improve your health by making you happier. No questions asked. Just take the story of Dotty and Layla.
Liv was born into a family with two dogs. Dotty and Layla have been a part of our lives for more than six years.
|Dotty and Layla, the puppy years|
We first met Dotty at a kennel. We had been to every Humane Society in the area, looked online, and in the newspaper, but we could not find a small dog to within our budget that was good with kids. Arriving at the local kennel, we knew that most of the dogs were way out of our budget. I was a first year teacher, and my husband was working construction. Spending $1000 on a dog was not a possibility, and we did not feel good about going to a breeder. We just stopped by to get an idea.
When asked if we needed any help, my husband asked, “Do you have anything used?”, adding his charming, joking smile.
The woman laughed, and said, “In fact, I do. I have two rat terriers. Their owner gave them up because she is ill and can’t take care of them.They’re behind the front desk. They hang out with us.” She smiled. “Let me go get them.”
|Dotty has always been daddy’s girl|
Dotty and Laverne ran out across the walkway, and Dotty almost jumped in J.’s arms. “That’s our dog.” We both looked at each other, and we knew. Another couple was there at the same time, and they took Laverne, Dotty’s sister and litter-mate. Both the rescue dogs had a home.On the way home, J. said that we should call and let them know if the other couple didn’t keep Laverne, we would take her. He felt bad separating them, but we just didn’t have the money and space for two dogs.
The kennel we went to gives you ten days to take the dog to the vet and see if your new pet is a good fit for your home. Dotty was a chewer, but she was all heart, skin and bones, and quiet as a mouse. I didn’t hear the girl bark once in the first ten days, even when we introduced her to other dogs in our extended family and neighborhood.
On the ninth day, we took Dotty to the vet. She was in perfect health. The vet asked if they could give our phone number to the kennel. Apparently they had written it down incorrectly, and they had called the vet to follow up with us about something. I didn’t think anything of it.
On the tenth day, I was at work and the phone rang. It was the woman from the kennel. She asked how Dotty was doing, and then asked me if I remembered Laverne. After singing L.’s praises (so sweet, timid, such a nice girl. . .), she told me that Laverne didn’t work out with the other couple. In her opinion, she thought it was too hard for her being separated from Dotty, the dog she had been with for eight months. “Would we take Laverne?“ She asked. “No charge. We just want her to have a home.”
After a quick call to my husband, it was decided. As long as Dotty was OK with it, Laverne would live with us. As soon as Laverne arrived, Dotty’s muteness was cured. She barked, she chewed even more, and both of them were living terrors, but they were happy. Laverne became Layla, and she has changed so much since the first time she came into our door. We don’t know what happened during the ten days they were apart, but our Layla would hide when one of us would put a plastic bag in the trash or cower when I raised my hand to pet her. Today, Layla is cuddly, loving, and very protective of both the boy and Liv. Dotty is the same as the day Layla came, our crazy barker, without the chewing (except Liv’s binkies).
|Our happy girls (Photo by Teresa Hudson)|
Dogs may make children healthier, but our dogs have made me happier. Before Dotty and Layla, J. and I were learning how to live together and balance our own differences to make our lives together work. Dotty and Layla brought a common love and bond together that no one can break.
When I have a bad day at work, or I am exhausted from being up all night with a teething baby, my cuddly canines make all the anxiety melt away.
Dotty and Layla may think that we saved them, but they really saved me, and they have given my children protection and love beyond what I ever expected.
If you are contemplating getting your child a dog and have the time and energy to devote to a pet, do it. Immunity boosters or not, they are man’s (and kids’) best friends.
|Our girls at Christmas|