They Call It Puppy Love: What a Dog Has Given Our Family

Jo Griffin by Jo Griffin Additional Needs

Jo Griffin

Jo Griffin

Joanna Griffin is mum to three boys including her eldest who has special needs. She is also a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Founder of ww...

The unconditional love of a puppy is a joy to behold.

Having taken the step, after much deliberation, of getting a new puppy to help our son over his fear of dogs, we are still in awe of the positive impact she’s had on our family.

His dog phobia was so bad to the point where going to the local park was becoming increasingly difficult.

We did not know what to do.

Our newest member of the family has given our son a sense of purpose having someone to ‘help’, letting her in and out of the garden, telling her off, making her sit, giving her food.

Other positives have been a sense of calm from stroking her and an additional friend to play with who will run after a ball time and time again.

It is a simple relationship, free from conflict, or complex interactions.

Her trusting, forgiving nature means that she accepts, without judgement.

There is an enduring relationship between humans and domesticated animals.

Research shows the many benefits of having a pet: increased oxytocin (the ‘love’ hormone), decreased blood pressure,  improvements in mental health from the affinity and companionship that a pet can provide.

A recent study suggested that even a pet hamster can help give individuals a sense of ‘purpose’.

It’s made it easier for us to encourage the whole family to get outside, run around and play which has to be good for everyone.

Of course there are challenges.  It is hard work. It is another ‘being’ to look after in the home that demands attention.

If you are not able to give this extra commitment then it is not worth spreading yourself too thin.

There are extra costs and if you work full time then it’s not fair on the poor animal, to be left alone for so long, when they are sociable creatures who need stimulation.

But for our family it has worked, phobia is cured, we spend more time outside, we have a new friend in doors who brings so much joy.

In fact my son has decided that her face is, literally, ‘joy’.  It doesn’t get more endearing than that.


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