INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Introduction

Throughout the ages, our lives with dogs have been lovingly documented—from cave art to hieroglyphics and from medieval tombs of European knights to Victorian wedding portraits. In today’s world, dogs are still an important and highly visible part of modern culture.

Just turn on a television or leaf through any magazine or newspaper to see a mind-boggling array of canine accoutrement for sale. Refrigerator magnets read, “Dear Lord, Please help me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Bumper stickers announce, “We’re staying together for the sake of the dog.” Two- and four-legged family members even pile on the couch together to view videotapes of shared family vacations.

The human-animal bond, or simply “the Bond,” isn’t just surviving—it’s thriving!

In fact, it is the strength and power of the Bond that inspired this book’s creation. In response to our call for stories, we received thousands of submissions from dog lovers around the globe who shared with us the myriad ways their dogs have positively impacted their lives. Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul is a testament to the enduring love we humans have for the dogs who share our lives. The chapters in the book reflect the main ways that dogs benefit us: They love us, heal us, teach us, make us laugh and sometimes break our hearts with their passing. As author Roger Caras once said, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.”

Dogs have been at our sides longer than any other domestic species. Perhaps this partnership arose and endured because people and dogs are so similar: We both love our families. We both enjoy snuggling in our dens. We both relish social bonds and respect loyalty.

Called the “most plastic of species,” dogs exist in almost every size and shape imaginable. In addition, they occupy a wide occupational niche, from pampered lapdogs who give new meaning to the term “dog tired,” to courageous canines that patrol airline terminals looking for bombs, drugs and dangerous people.

Dogs make us feel good—and are good for us. Organizations like the Delta Society describe this as “the positive effect of pets on human health and well-being.” Our dogs relieve chronic pain, lift our spirits, sniff out cancer, detect impending heart attacks, seizures and migraines, lower our blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help us recover from devastating illness, and even improve our children’s IQ, as well as lowering their risk for adult allergies and asthma. Just think—the unconditional love, limitless affection and to-die-for loyalty of a well-chosen, well-trained, well-cared-for dog could be just what the doctor ordered!

But perhaps our dogs help us most of all by giving us an important outlet for our love. About six out of ten U.S. households have pets, whereas only three out of ten have children. Once our children grow up—and the nest empties— dogs take on even greater importance to millions of Americans who yearn to nurture. For we humans are an extremely social species with a need to nurture.

Yet in today’s world, many of us live alone, whether due to divorce, choosing to remain childless, surviving a spouse or partner, or having a far-flung extended family. And sadly, too much time spent alone can leave us sick— and even shorten our lives.

Lucky for us, our canine companions provide emotional rescue for everything from a relationship breakup or bad day at work to a bad hair day—or even a no hair day for those of us facing cancer treatment. Dogs love us for simply being who and what we are. They don’t care if we’re famous, powerful, rich, important people—we’re all that and more in their eyes.

At the end of the day, we may never know whether those liquid eyes shine for us or for the treat drawer, but when a tap-dancing, delighted frenzy of fur greets you at the door with a red-carpet welcome, it hardly seems to matter.

So, sit back, relax and let the love of dogs wash over you as you enjoy these charming, true tales. May they inspire you to be the person your dog thinks you are!

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