People in this country clearly value their furry —or scaly, or fine-feathered — friends. We spent nearly $70 billion dollars on our pets last year, according to American Veterinary Medical Association statistics. As for me, the only pet worthy of devotion is a dog. Their wisdom is boundless if you know how to read the signs.

Our Shetland Sheepdog has proven his value far beyond that of playmate or companion. Call me crazy, but I am convinced he’s a medical intuitive. As soon as I open my eyes each morning, Sparky bolts off the bed for his first walk of the day. One morning I awoke, puzzled when he refused to move. Instead, I found our dog resting his head on The Daddy-Person’s stomach. I had to get Sparky’s leash and literally pull him off the bed. Next day, same thing.

On the third day, my husband complained of stomach pain. To the hospital, we went. Diagnosis: probable appendicitis. After emergency surgery, the doc said the tissue was barely pink, but it was in fact appendicitis.

Point being, dogs are lifesavers — sometimes physically, and certainly when it comes to matters of the heart. It’s no wonder that more than 60 million US households include canines in their families. While cats come in a respectable second place, the AVMA stats show that 22% fewer homes are Team Feline. I’m not looking to get in a cat fight; Fluffy has her charms for sure. Still, I’ll take “woof” over aloof any doggone day. Fish, birds, hamsters, and reptiles are barely in the game, with a combined total percentage that doesn’t even approach the front-runners.

Whichever team you root for, it cannot be denied that pets of any species enrich our lives. In my latest blog post, I debunk the belief that “dogs are man’s best friend”. In our home, Sparky and his canine “sister” Ozzi are not our friends. They are family.

Read the full story here. 

SOURCEPhoto: Pets4homes
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Valerie Zaffos
Though she now checks the 4th box on forms requesting her age range, Val still has lots to learn. With degrees in journalism and psychology, Val analyzes everything — most of all her own flaws & foibles. Then she writes about it so that others who identify with her tragedies & triumphs might learn by osmosis. Val is a mental health counselor in Weston, FL, which provides ample opportunity to analyze and guide motivated clients, instead of therapizing family and friends who aren’t asking for it. Read her Psychobabble blog at