This is Sammy. It was a star-crossed move that I wasn’t around when my family adopted her, otherwise I would’ve pressed to name her Ernest Hemingway II. She’s still a baby at seven months. She has an inexplicable obsession with fuzzy socks, and she fears loud noises but nevertheless chases trucks.

Behold: my top five reasons why having a dog has improved my quality of life, if not added the same amount of years to my life span that living in Russia has shaved off.

1) Energy. As human beings, it is a relatively common phenomenon to mimic the moods or energy levels of those around us (if you’re surrounded by crappy people it’s easier to be in a crappy mood). A baby dog has the most energy of all the living things in the world. She persuades the family to wake up early to take her for a walk, often using loud howls and scratching on doors to cajole us out of bed. Even though we don’t really have a choice, I would argue the crisp morning air and light exercise has only made us feel better. And I even observed my fourteen-year-old brother rise in the wee hours of the morning just to give her a hug. Now that’s magic.

2) Attachment. I miss Sammy the same way I miss by 1.5 year old nephew. Neither are my direct responsibility, but I feel compelled to be around them all the time. Because they make me feel good. I can only smile around them, tend to their needs, and squeeze them until someone says, “okay, that’s enough”. And then everyone laughs and I squeeze some more.

3) Who needs guns in the house when you’ve got a dog who will attack assailants with slobbery kisses and automatically hand them her paw as she begs for a treat? I theorize it could work by motivating them to be happier, better people.

4) The more time she takes up in people’s beds, the less time those people can sleep in their beds. Let’s raise a glass to productivity enforced.

5) And the most obvious reason: people come and go in life, and so do dogs given their tragically short life span. But you can best believe that average of thirteen years (much longer than the average relationship) will be filled with nothing but unconditional love, an inherent lack of all things stupid (passive aggressiveness, selfishness, grudges, egos, insecurities, stunted maturity, sexism and any other kind of “-ism”, cruelty, arrogance, etc.);a relationship where your dog will want nothing more than food, water, a place to poop, to be petted, to be hugged, your warmth, and, more occasionally than I’d like to admit, your bed; as perfect as a connection to another living being can get. In short, they’ll want nothing more of you or from you than you, and you’ll want nothing more from them but them, and that, that is why dogs are the best things in the entire world.

Cats are nice too, mainly because they’re hilarious.