There are documented health benefits to living with a dog. Petting a dog lowers your blood pressure; walking a dog tones your muscles and pumps oxygen into your brain; and socializing a dog forces you into a state of mindfulness, which supposedly reduces stress. But training a dog–at least for me–created stress.
When you have a dog by your side waiting to respond to your every direction, you have to be present and aware. When that dog is learning to be a service dog, a moment’s lapse can sabotage months of training. Being mindful isn’t a natural state for me. I don’t think it is for most people. Generally we walk around preoccupied, startling back to the present in brief jolts before tumbling back into the well of our own thoughts. Daisy forced me out of my own head–but I didn’t come quietly. It’s comfortable inside my head. I can have private conversations and indulge in elaborate fantasies that bear no resemblance to my actual life. I can tell people off. I can be witty and charming and well dressed. Who wouldn’t want to spend most of her time in a place like that? Someone with a puppy, that’s who. Because if you don’t give that dog what it wants, meaning a clue as to what you want, it will find some other way to amuse itself. And puppies are not known for making good choices.
– Weekends with Daisy by Sharron Kahn Luttrell