All Hail the Doodles
I recently discovered an organisation called Puppy Spot (a company that connects dog lovers with the right pup for them, and who build awareness about the health benefits that having a dog brings). Being blessed with the scruffy but beautiful blondie that is Genevieve, I wanted to create a post about how my own dog has affected mine and my family's health and well-being.
Gen is a labradoodle - I don't think I have gone into details on her background before on here! Her mother was a very svelte black labrador, and dad was a humongous grey poodle with a very curly coat. Their names were Lady Jane and Frank. We found Genevieve four years ago; she was born into a lovely family who lived in the countryside. Being brought up in an outside pen meant Gen hated going to the loo on anything but grass, so toilet training was a breeze! My family had talked about getting a dog before, but never acted on it; we wanted it to be practical and fair for the pup we ended up with. It needed to be the right time.
However, I remember finding Gen advertised on a local website and pressuring my parents to drive us to view her that very weekend. It's safe to say we all fell in love at first sight. Even Dad - who defiantly kept stating: "it's your dog, not mine, I'm not walking her or cleaning up after her" - was put under the Doodle spell!
Having a dog is a huge responsibility, there's no denying it. You adapt your plans to suit them, you worry about them like they're your own child, you have to make time to give them the love and affection they need, you need money to pay for their treatment if anything happens....vet's bills are expensive, but oh so worth it.
What Gen has brought to us as a family, you could never, ever put a price on. I mean, she cost us £500. I think that is just laughable, that so far we have forked out around £10 a month, £2.50 a week for a furry bundle of unconditional love and madness. She is mad, in the best way. One of her best examples of this is the way she wrenches all of the wool stuffing out of her 'pet' tiger, then expects you to stuff it all back in - just so she can un-stuff it again. Or the way she follows bumblebees around the garden in a trance. The way she sings for her dinner. Or the way she licks your talcum powder off after you've had a bath!!
Having Gen, to me and my sister, is like having a youngest sister - it helps that we're all blonde! We can snuggle up on the sofa and watch chick flicks, we can share snacks (Gen loves a good crisp, prawn cracker, the occasional bit of ice-cream - all in moderation!), we can run in the woods together and pretend to be care-free, as pictured above. If any of us are having a down day, we can guarantee Gen will be there to cheer us up.
Puppy Spot have a graphic about the health benefits of our canine friends on their site - that you can take a nosy at. On there, it tells you exactly how pups are valuable for your health. It has been scientifically proven that spending time with a dog lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, decreases anxiety, boosts the immune system and rids of feelings of isolation or loneliness. I agree wholly with all of these points. Throughout hard times, when my Dad was ill, my Grandad helped out a huge deal, looking after Gen. With him being 81, she is an excellent excuse for him to go out for an extra walk, not to mention brilliant company as he lives alone. He suffered with high-risk cardiovascular problems a couple of years ago, but I swear since we got Gen, he only looks healthier. As well as this, throughout my Dad's cancer treatment, Gen was there to play the agony aunt. Just looking at her kind brown eyes would light up our world after a rough day.
Dogs are amazing, and probably underrated by many. We should all know what a remarkable job working dogs such as guide dogs and police dogs do, but it's important to know that even without training, dogs are intelligent enough to detect issues in your health. After my Dad was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2014, we realised in hindsight that Gen had absolutely acted differently around him. There was no doubt she had sensed it, and following that, she also sensed when he was having chemotherapy. It was as if she knew the bad cells were there. She needed reassuring that Dad was getting better. It seems a silly thing to rely on your dog to predict your health, but I do see sense in that. I think we should trust our dog's marvellous instincts, and get checked out if our dogs start to behave very differently around us.