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Pets enhance quality of life
DD lays in the sun on a deck. - photo by Photo by Danielle Hipps

It’s been more than three weeks since my athletic activities grinded to a halt due to my sprained ankle — but I’m happy to report an adorable new distraction.
About 10 days before my soccer injury, my fiancé and I adopted a 2-year-old Carolina dog mix named D.D.
It’s amazing how quickly she stole our hearts. When we first visited with her at the shelter, we were apprehensive because she seemed interested in everything except us.
After we spent about 10 minutes with her in a fenced-in play area, she seemed much more interactive, and I melted faster than butter in Paula Deen’s frying pan.
She has all of the qualities we wanted and were required to meet according to our landlords: she’s not a puppy and is house-trained, she’s about 40-pounds and stands about knee-height, and she’s a short-haired breed that sheds only seasonally.
“We need her! She’s so sweet and she’s been here too long!” I squealed to my other half. We’d talked about adding a four-legged friend to our home for years, but until now we’ve had restrictive leases.
Due to my injury and D.D.’s past heart-worm experience, our big plans for running miles at a time with our pup — that’s what we call her, even though she’s a young adult — have been put on hold. But she still enhances our lives and creates a deeper bond in our partnership.
Weeknights when we used to loaf on the couch are now spent playing fetch with D.D. in our yard or walking her around the block. She greets us eagerly each morning when we rise and forces us to at least put on our athletic shoes.
I have to admit, though, after we brought her home I was a bit nervous. “We’re taking on a big responsibility, but what is it that we get out of it again?” I thought.
That wagging tail and those curious eyes have me convinced that taking D.D. into our home was the right move, though.
When my injury restricted my mobility and rendered me an unwilling couch potato, D.D.’s presence made my time at home less lonely. Though we couldn’t converse, having some level of companionship helped scratch my itch to socialize.
And that bit about her not being interested in us? That’s changed pretty quickly. Now she follows us around the house — sometimes seeming confused if we come and go from the same room within a short time, and she has a keen eye on our moves within the kitchen.
I lie on the couch and she lies on the floor right next to me. If I shift positions, she rouses to see what kind of adventures might be in store. Often she sticks her nose close to me, seeking some affection or attention.
Those moments often lead to the two of us laughing as we play tug with a rope or tossing items for D.D. to fetch — the kind of unstructured play time that society expects of children but not adults.
And it may sound silly, but I’ve found myself thinking a lot lately that growing up has caused me to be too behaved, too calm and not carefree enough.
Now, when I need that silly kind of release, I know I can turn to D.D., who allows me to tap my free-spirited side at a moment’s notice.

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