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Playing with dogs: It's puppy Prozac

A wrestling session with my dog on Earth Day gave me a clearer focus.  Did you ever consider the lessons learned in playing with a dog? Call me a writer and over thinker (many have); there’s something to be learned about living  in the moments of frolic with a canine family member.

Social media connects us in many ways, but dogs unite us in others. When’s the last time you met a complete stranger or said hello to someone whose dog first caught your eye? I’ve lost count.

It can’t be found in a pill bottle; that feeling of high and laughter that comes from playing with a dog. Puppy Prozac, that’s what I call the post play feeling.

Any dog I’ve had the pleasure of embracing into my life has known certain elementary words since entering my heart’s front door; these include the basics like “hungry?” and “wanna go out” as well as (try as hard as I may) “stay.” One of the basics in the Cocker handbook is “ball,” it’s true, but more specifically the word “play” has become a literal metaphor for “let your hair down and let’s rock” (a self-mantra and one that invites a butt in the air from my canine super hero).

In true raucous play form, I even have a “start” signal cue and a “safe” word when my little pooch is becoming more tiger-esque.

Nothing replicates the  look in my dog’s eyes when “wanna play” is verbalized. Heck, even at 14 years of age, my previous Cocker Spaniel knew the hand signal for “play,” which ebbed, flowed and changed with time. For those who have loved and a lost a dog to time, you understand those changes. Hide and seek indoors serves as a great game to heighten a dog’s senses (even when hearing diminishes). For dogs whose sight is affected, cushioning a room and a game of tug of war or ball toss can be great fun. Be the dog, I remind myself. Would I want someone to treat me differently if my senses diminished, lessened or were gone?

Play sessions — at any stage’s of a dog’s life —  keep us all feeling young.

The next time life throws you a bone, consider playing with your dog. It’s free, limitless, and strengthens the bond you already have with your canine kid.




  1. Ellen says

    What a marvelous story! You truly outdid yourself on this one, Carol! This is priceless advice; as a matter of fact, it’s the best advice without any cost involved. I loved the way you expressed your love for your dog through something as simple as play! This made me want to go and give my dog another play session today because like you said, the best things in life truly are free and kee us all feeling young! Thanks for the reminder.

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