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The love of a pup

When coming home after a crazy-busy day, who doesn't love to be greeted with a smile and happy dance at the door from the family? It certainly makes me "feel the love" and any stress or anxiety that I may have instantly fades away. In my home it's generally not a spouse or my kids that greets me with such aplomb...but instead my zippy, 13-pound puppy, Ricky (and while my teenage kids do love me, it's tough to compete with their ever growing world of Facebook or texting). Ricky greets me like I've been gone for weeks and I'm convinced there's always a huge smile on his face when I walk through the door.

Ricky is five years old, a half Havanese, half Maltese mix who's been with us since he was 11 weeks old. He's crazy-cute, furry (no shedding!), has a jolly disposition, is super-quick to learn and always eager to please! There was always a dog or pet in my home growing up, so not having one just wouldn't feel complete.

Research shows that, unless you're someone who really dislikes dogs (or animals), are allergic, or just absolutely too busy to care of one, pets can provide excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits - possibly more than even people.

Pets make you happier For those who love animals, it's impossible to stay in a bad mood when puppy eyes meet yours, or a super-soft cat rubs against you. Research supports the mood-enhancing benefits of pets. Studies found that people were less likely to suffer from "the blues" if they owned a pet.

Pets reduce stress While we all know the power of talking things over with a good friend, spending time with a pet may sometimes be better. When involved with a stressful task, people actually have been shown to experience less stress when their pets were with them rather than a friend. This may be partially due to the fact that pets don't judge us; they simply love us.

Dogs get you out and exercising Get your sneakers on! Dog owners do spend more time walking than non-pet owners. Exercise is good for stress management and overall health, so owning a dog can be credited with increasing these benefits.

Dogs help you meet people While out walking, having a dog frequently gives people a reason to stop and talk, so you meet more people. That's another great stress management benefit that also increases one's social circle. My town, for instance, is quite the "dog town" so everyone knows well as the pups!

Owning a pet isn't for everyone though. No doubt there's additional work and responsibility, which can bring its own stress; but, for most people, the benefits of having a pet outweigh the drawbacks.

A furry best friend can certainly reduce stress in your life and bring you tons of love and support (and thankfully they have no interest in Facebook or texing).

Do you have pets? How do they help you de-stress?

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']#[/author_image] [author_info] Chris is the Creative Services Project Manager at HP. She lives in Westchester, NY with her 20 and 17 year-old expert social networking daughters. She enjoys a quick sense of humor, loves early morning and evening walks with Ricky, date nights with her kayaking boyfriend and is a huge SNL fan. Chris' party tip: "Get out of the kitchen to enjoy the time and the margaritas with your guests!" [/author_info] [/author]

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