Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 2004/ 16 Kislev, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

Dogs are most definitely endorphin makers | We all have endorphins in our brains. Endorphins are, simply put, bunches of hormones which bind together and can reduce the sensation of pain and affect our emotions. Outside factors can alter the endorphins within us. When one engages in pleasurable activities one can "make endorphins" happen which create a good feeling of satisfaction, calm, and joy.

There are a million ways to make endorphins. First you have to cut out the stress, and then do something enjoyable. Laughing is about the best way to create endorphins. Playing with your kids and spending time with those you love certainly can make endorphins. Getting a massage, talking a relaxing bath, or going for a nice walk will do it, too. Even eating a really delicious meal can produce endorphins. Krispy Kreams, in addition to calories and fat, are positively loaded with endorphins!

Dogs are most definitely endorphin makers. Our own beloved golden retriever, Moose, gave my wife and me endorphins all day long every day for eight years. He's been gone over a year and we still miss that wonderful shot of love and comfort that came from living with him. Holding that big sweet puppy in my arms was the surest and quickest way to an industrial-strength endorphin fix anytime I needed one.

We keep saying that we will adopt another dog, and we will, but it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, both of us have been utterly pathetic - crossing the street to get our hands on someone else's dog, talking to strangers who are walking their dogs passed our house (not because we are particularly friendly, but just because we need to get close to a dog), and running to the window whenever a golden comes down the street. I told you we are pathetic.

We even babysat my sister's dog and my brother's dog - for a week each time. From time to time, we've been checking out the adoption funds and animal shelters on the internet, scanning the photos of homeless pets in need of love. There are so many. Moose came from one of the pet adoption places and we'll definitely get out next one the same way. I just don't understand why so many people think they need to go to breeders for the perfect dog.

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Sure, Moose happened to be a pure bred golden, but that isn't why we got him. As my wife says, it was his eyes. He just looked so sad. He was four and a half when we adopted him and he must have had it tough for those first four and a half years. He turned out to be the sweetest, smartest, most loyal pooch we could ever have hoped for. As I said, he gave us endorphins in spades, so we're sold on going the adoption route. Yes, puppies are cute, but I wouldn't have traded what we had with Moose for all the puppies in the universe.

The question now is what kind of dog to get. We love all dogs but we gravitate to the large ones. My wife likes the long haired breeds and, of course, we're both in love with goldens. But then we wonder if we wouldn't be better off with something not quite so big. Not a small dog, but something in the neighborhood of about 40 to 60 pounds. I like the Airedale terriers. She likes collies. We both like labs. But maybe just a plain ol' mutt is the way to go. But then again, no other dog has those soul- searching eyes like a golden. See what I mean? So many choices…

The other question is, how many do we get? One of the things we hated, was leaving Moose alone whenever we went out for any long period of time, he always looked so sad to see us go. He seemed to know when we were getting dressed that he wasn't going along, and he'd put that big head of his down on the floor between his paws, look up at us with those eyes, and sigh. Talk about guilt! How do you go out and have a good time when you know your dog is home alone eating his heart out? So we're thinking of getting two dogs this time - that way they can keep each other company when we are out.

There's no question that we will be adopting soon … as soon as we can figure out what we want. In the meantime, we will just have to muddle through life being endorphin deficient - or start eating a whole lot more!

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2004 Greg Crosby