My dog is called Murf, a golden Labrador I adopted two years ago. She was used for breeding and when she was of no use to the owner she was dumped on the side of a road with a prolapsed uterus at the age of 4. Murf and I bonded immediately and when I took her home my two girls instantly fell in love. We were the perfect fit. Murf is a true part of the family and a constant reminder of what life is about.
Murf has helped teach my daughters and reminded me of some valuable life lessons, like trust, compassion, patience, responsibility and respect. But watching my children with Murf, she benefits too. Lots of cuddling and Murf is always included in their activities whether its just watching tv or a high energy play when we are out for a walk.
I have always been around pets, both dogs and cats. Although I am a dog type of guy. Comparing these two family pets is a bit like Pepsi and Coke you favour one or the other. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. This is up from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988. There are roughly 70 Million pet-owning households across Europe (excluding Russia), who own at least one pet animal. This calculation includes 25% Cats and 26% Dogs.
Some of the more obvious benefits of having Murf is my children do learn about responsibility, trust, compassion, respect, self-esteem, loyalty, motivation, empathy, and last but not least stress relief. Nothing like finally getting to sit down and Murf waddles over and rests her chin on my lap with her big brown eyes looking up at me.
Looking back at all the dogs I have had they have taught me a great deal about what its like to be a dog and how they have different personalities, essentially I think of them and treat them as individuals. As a single parent it can get very lonely, especially when the girls go back to their Mum’s. Having Murf and her wagging tail to come home to is a great antidote to loneliness and an even better companion when chilling out in the evening in front of the tv. I make a huge effort to make the most of our time together and both of us benefit greatly from the exercise. I’m not sure whether Murf enjoys the house when the girls are here or not and I will never know. My daughters are with me every Monday, Tuesday and every second Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I swear Murf knows when they are coming and the excitement and welcoming they receive is awesome to see. I can hear her during the night trodding into each room checking on the girls and me and then thud down the stairs to keep guard of the house.
Because Murf had such an awful existence before she came to live with my family she has a few health issues, nothing life threatening! So visiting a Veterinary Surgeon was something we were going to do a couple of times a year. What happened next was such amazing luck. Murf and I stumbled into Bushypark Vets and meet Maeve and her team of absolutely wonderful people. Open the door and walk into another world, a magical one! Its very hard to put into words to give you a sense of what I mean. It is something like you feel in your soul and see with your eyes. These people have dedicated their lives to animals and when you are inside the surgery they make you feel part of the team. It is very much like being in an episode of ER.
The one thing the girls and I agree on; is Murf is the best dog EVER. Somedays when we get home and are exhausted and fall onto the sofa, Murf will walk backwards and forwards under us until she gets a pet then move her head onto your lap so you don’t have to move a muscle to stroke her.