By Tom Purcell
It was late December of 2020. COVID cabin fever was hitting me hard.
As a writer and communications consultant, I’ve long worked from an office in my home.
I was used to working alone at home, but COVID isolation was pushing me beyond my limits.
Family issues were also weighing me down. My father, then 87, was facing a series of health challenges.
I was on guard day and night, waiting for a phone call to ask me to help get him off the floor because his legs were no longer able to hold him.
Isolation and stress — and constant worry about getting COVID and passing it on to my parents — were weighing me down.
My oldest sister, Kathy, offered what she thought was the perfect solution to my woes:
“You need to get a dog,” she said matter-of-factly one day.
I’ve always loved dogs and routinely stop to pet any pup who crosses my path. And I still miss my childhood puppy, Jingles, a sweet collie mix.
But I’d never considered bringing a canine companion into my home permanently.
I’m away from the house too often, I told myself. I don’t want to leave a dog isolated in a crate. And I travel for work too often.
But the truth is, I didn’t want the responsibility. I wanted to come and go and do as I pleased.
Luckily, I woke one morning sick and tired of the COVID isolation.
“I’m getting a dog,” I said to myself.
I contacted local rescue shelters, assuming I’d have my pick of dogs that day. But many other people had decided to get rescue dogs during the pandemic, and, after six weeks of trying, no shelter had replied to my applications.
One Saturday, after I’d spent hours calling and emailing various places, I spotted an ad for Labrador puppies that were available in Punxsutawney . I thought it might be a scam, but it was legitimate.
I woke early the next day and made the 90-minute journey to pick out my puppy. Only nine days old, five of the pups had already been claimed. I had my pick of four boys.
The first three wanted nothing to do with me and thrashed about uneasily in my arms. But then I picked up the fourth and he settled contentedly as though he’d found his perfect human.
He did. And I’d found my perfect pup.
Thurber turned 2 on Christmas Day, and throughout my 60 years, he’s one of the very best decisions I ever made in my life.
I didn’t realize how often I’d not been laughing until he came into my home. I still laugh out loud at least five times every day. (See some reasons why at ThurbersTail.com!)
I share this story for the simple reason that one of the best things any human being can ever do to benefit their mental and physical well-being is to get a pet.
The companionship, the exercise, the pure joy of having such a creature share life with you is incredibly beneficial. Several studies show this.
According to PsyPost, a recent study finds that dogs especially improve the health and physical activity of elderly dog parents.
Pets make us more empathetic and more civil toward each other.
And they certainly help us escape from the never-ending noise and stress of modern life and bring us a peace and calm that we badly need.
So as we wrap 2022 and head into 2023, here’s one resolution that you should strongly consider: Get a pet!