While you're working on your New Year's resolutions, you may want to consider adding a canine pal to your family. After all, it's the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, so it seems terribly fitting.
If you haven't already experienced the unbelievable joy of adopting a dog, the new year is a great time to feel the love. Not only will you make one furry life so much better, but yours will be ridiculously improved as soon as your pup comes bouncing in the door.
Need some convincing? Here are just a few great reasons to adopt a new friend this year.
Instant unconditional love
Even your closest friends and family members irk and are irked by you occasionally. Not your dog. The sun rises and sets on you, even if you run out of treats, take him to the vet, or insist on clipping his nails. Just check out that furiously wagging tail and happy bark when you return from work (or the bathroom). Your dog adores you!
You'll save a life
Each year, 2.7 million dogs are euthanized in shelters because there just aren't enough people to adopt them. When you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, not only are you saving that dog, but you're clearing up space for another animal that might need it.
You'll never be lonely
Unlike cats that often are quite happy doing their own thing, dogs are typically more social animals, wanting to hang with their people. Whether you're reading, watching Netflix or working on the computer, your pooch will likely be at your side or curled up at your feet, reveling in your company. A 2011 study found that dog owners were less lonely, less depressed, were happier and had higher self-esteem than those without dogs.
It's good for your health
There are all sorts of studies that show links between dog ownership and health benefits from lowering the risk of heart disease to living longer lives. Other studies show that dogs help relieve stress, and children born into a home with a dog have a reduced risk of developing asthma and allergies.
You won't need to set your alarm
A dog's body clock knows when Mother Nature and breakfast are calling. If you don't rouse yourself out of bed at the right time, you may feel a friendly paw on your chest or hear worried panting in your ear. You may never oversleep again.
You'll be more social
It's hard to be a hermit when you know your pup needs to go on walks and socialize with other dogs. You might set up doggy playdates or go to the dog park or head to the pet store where you can let your pal pick out some toys or treats. You might even make a few new human friends in the process.
You'll laugh more
Although we love watching cat videos, in real life, dogs are the ones that truly make us chuckle. Whether they're zooming around the yard or failing to catch a tennis ball, dogs inspire us to let loose. Several studies have even looked at what exactly makes us laugh and why we laugh at dogs more than cats. (As long as they know we're laughing with them, of course, not at them.)
You won't have an excuse to stay inside
There are so many benefits to being in the great outdoors. Walking in the woods, for example, can ease stress, make you sleep better and lower anxiety. In addition, your concentration may improve, you may heal faster, you'll get more exercise and you'll likelier be happier, reports Harvard Health. And because your dog needs to go out at least a few times a day, you'll be reaping those benefits, especially if you decide to take him for walks instead of just letting him run around the yard on his own.
You'll up your selfie game
Your friends are tired of seeing just your face all over your social media accounts. Adding a grinning dog, tongue lolling out, will make your snapshots much more likely to get likes. In fact, your new dog probably deserves his own Instagram.
You'll feel good about yourself
Finally, for total selfish reasons, you'll feel a sense of pride for saving a dog and for helping reduce the homeless pet population. You will totally deserve that pat on the back and it will pay off a thousand fold with snuggles and pet handshakes and looks of adoration.
Now, go adopt a dog, will you?