How dogs change household dynamics

Some people say growing up with a dog makes for a happier, healthier upbringing. As well as forcing us to exercise and making us laugh, our canine buddies possess an ironclad loyalty which inspires feelings of compassion and wholeness.

I grew up in a dog-free household; Dad was allergic, Mum couldn’t abide the smell, and Lucy (my youngest sister) was petrified by even the tamest of beasts–in her mind, a golden retriever was basically a hyena. Not having a dog was normal for me, and I remember my childhood being incredible regardless.

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I was one of three kids, so there was always some kind of mayhem to quell without an excitable puppy knocking over vases and eating the skirting boards! However, now the dust has settled and the girls are away at uni the house is eerily quiet. The three of us often gather in the lounge, the empty rooms gathering dust: Dad sits with his iPad, Mum opens up Duolingo and I’ll scroll through Facebook until my graduation photos start reappearing again.

OK life’s not that tragic, I just wanted to set the scene for Jack’s juxtapositional arrival.

Jack isn’t a young dog anymore (hail to Overwatch fans), but he still gets irrationally excited when anyone mentions walkies. I reckon it’ll stick with me: the moment when Dad turned up at the front door, a wide grin on his face, with this scrappy thing dutifully sitting at his side. Jack’s been with us a week now, and has another two until his owner returns. In that week though we’ve grown to know and love his characterful quirks. It’s safe to say life has been altered in the Hyde household!

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Granted, dog sitting is nothing like having your own furry companion, especially considering Jack is so well behaved. No rampaging puppy stage, no sickness, no vet bills, so we haven’t exactly had the full doggy experience. However, Dad has taken to the job with gusto. I haven’t seen him so animated in ages! Having said that, we’ve all been doting on him. Mum gave him a bit of chicken out the fridge today, I think we’re winning her over.

Jack is adorable but he’s so damned needy. Stop stroking his head and he starts pawing you. Leave him alone and he whines incessantly. Sit on the sofa and you become his sofa. This is why Jack not only has to sleep in one of our beds, he also comes to work with us! Gardening with the little man about has been a laugh, even if it’s a tad unproductive… The warm greetings we get from acquaintances and strangers alike with Jack in tow astounds me. Just the presence of a dog has a profound effect on everyone’s mood, and I can tell I’m not an exception to this observation.

Bringing Jack everywhere may be like supervising a toddler, but it’s been worth it. The emotions of others can strongly influence your own, and Jack’s carefree, chilled out demeanor seems to have rubbed off on all of us.

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