The g-kids have a new puppy which means Becky and I have a new g-dog.
Now although I think “G-Dog” would be a great name for a canine companion (it reminds me of an old-school rapper), the kids and parents went a different route. After much deliberation and consideration, they christened the new pup “Wrigley.” Not because she wriggles, although she does do that, and not because they like chewing gum, although that is true, as well.
No, the name comes from the baseball park near Lake Michigan which is home to the family’s favorite sports team, the Chicago Cubs.
The kids were born into Cubs Nation, baptized from the beginning into the loyal community of Cubs fans. It was in the air they breathed when each of them was brought home from the hospital. They wear their blue shirts and caps with the red C as they cheer the Cubbies on. They learned that the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” includes the alternate lines, “And we’ll root, root, root for the Cubbies/if they don’t win it’s a shame.”
Early on, they were schlepped to stadia for games. This summer, so far, they have seen the Cubs play twice in Cincinnati, once in Pittsburgh, and once at the Mecca of Cubs fandom, Wrigley Field, which now shares its name with their new puppy. The entire family loves the Cubs.
And they love Wrigley. She is a running and tumbling, tripping and slipping and finger-nipping white fur ball of cuteness in the form of a dog. It’s good for kids to share their life with a dog. It’s good for anyone, really. Research bears this out.
Dog ownership teaches responsibility which, as adults know, is one of the prime skills children (and some adults?) need to learn. It’s possible to be an irresponsible dog owner, but the majority of people who have dogs feel mostly love and affection for their four-legged friends. Research shows that oxytocin, a chemical in the brain that induces feelings of happiness, increases just by staring into their dog’s eyes.
Dogs can strengthen the bonds between humans, as well. A study out of the school of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that subjects who held a strong attachment to pets felt more connected to their communities and relationships.
Because dogs require us to move about and go for walks, our physical health is improved. One Canadian study found that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week compared to 168 minutes for those who didn’t own dogs. Walking dogs also allows for increased social interaction among people, with studies showing people were more likely to stop and say hello to someone who is walking a dog.
After reading all this research on the benefits of dog ownership, I’m wondering if having a dog as a companion would be especially good for Cubs fans. If for no other reason than the psychological benefits.
For example, experiments at the University of Buffalo showed that having a dog in the room lowers the human test subjects’ blood pressure and decreases stress.
Let’s face it: in years past, when the outlook was bleak for the playoffs, a little less stress and lower BP would have been a good thing. And as each Cubs season ended and fans repeated, “Wait’ll next year,” dogs would have been useful therapy in helping people recover from a crisis.
But that was in the past. So far, 2016 is shaping up to be one of the great seasons for the Cubs. This might be the year. But whether they do or don’t go all the way, it would be to their benefit to have a dog along for the ride.
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.