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Bondi Vet Dr Chris Brown shares some of his wisdom about the real benefits of owning a pet.

It feels like in the last 10 years we’ve really moved from pets just being guard dogs or mouse-catching cats to having a deeper emotional purpose. They give us affection, make us feel less lonely and, if you believe the research, make us healthier, fitter and less prone to illness. But personally I think they show us how to be happy. How the simple things like a sleep in the sun or a run in the park can be the greatest pleasures in life!

I always find each individual has a very unique relationship with their pet. For some people they’re just a backyard accessory that runs some occasional ‘security’ work and is nice to pat when they’re feeling that way inclined. But for others—me included—they’re fully fledged family members who eat, sleep and exercise at the same time as their slightly less hairy counterparts. The names of these kinds of pets are the giveaway. Rather than being called Spot, Tiger or Red, they’re given ‘people’ names like Max, Jesse, Chloe and Zoe, that suit their human status!
 

 
Couple running with dog
Lazy cat
Sleepy pug

Picking the one

You should always choose pets that enjoy a similar lifestyle to your own. So if you love running, go for a working dog like a border collie or even a real go-getter like a Jack Russell. If you’re more of a water baby then try a golden retriever or Labrador or even a crossbreed like a groodle or labradoodle. These guys crave water like a surfer craves swell.

For the more relaxed of us out there, cats can be the perfect lazy pet. They’re happy in their own company and don’t crave exercise. They’re more likely to create their own activities with a burn around the house or backyard.

In the canine world cavalier King Charles spaniels, pugs, cavoodles (cavalier x poodle), miniature dachshunds and miniature schnauzers measure up pretty well. Surprisingly, an ex-racing greyhound could also be a good option. Despite their running reputation, these guys are actually quite relaxed and are more than happy with just an easy walk around the block.

 
 
 
Dog smelling flower
Couple with cat
 
Dog staring out window
Curious cat

Looking after your pet

Dogs love being outside for all the new sights, smells and opportunities for exercise. You can’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm. But importantly, they make us so much more social. We end up visiting places and talking to people we’d never normally engage with. In fact, not only are pets great personal trainers, they’re also great matchmakers!

Just remember that the most important exercise for your pet often isn’t with a leash. Exercising their mind is just as important as their muscles. After all, pets get bored and may suffer from separation anxiety if their mind is able to focus on the fact their best friend is far away from them at work. So just like you do for your human partners, try to have some quality time together where it’s just the two of you.

 
 
 

Originally published in The Costco Connection, Autumn 2015. Pick up the latest copy at your local warehouse or read it online.