There's a great scene in the film 28 Days, the one where Sandra Bullock goes to rehab, where the 'inmates' ask when they should start dating.
The counsellor replies that first they should try looking after a plant, then, if the plant survives, they should get a pet. If both plant and pet are alive and thriving after a year they can consider a romantic relationship.
Well, presuming that you're not surrounded by lots of dead plants, I think that dogs are the very best sober tools.
Dogs get you outside, exercising, every day, and there are few better mood lifters and serotonin boosters than that.
They are great for your self esteem (which has probably taken a bit of a battering), as they think you are incredible - the best person in the whole universe.
Dogs are also natural Buddhists. If you are not particularly good at mindfulness, then just look at a dog. They think that every smell, every sound, every new experience is the best and most exciting thing ever. They greet each day with boundless enthusiasm.
There's a great cartoon doing the rounds on Facebook. It shows a man and his dog, sitting on a bench in a park looking at the moon. There are thought bubbles showing what's on their minds.
The man is thinking about getting a new car, a hot wife and going on a flashy holiday. The dog is thinking about sitting with his owner on a bench in the park looking at the moon.
Dogs are also great healers. They know when we're feeling down, or sick.
When I was going through the whole cancer thing, if I was feeling ill or miserable I'd go and lie on my bed and my dog would lie next to me, just resting his furry head on my tummy, for as long as I needed company. He didn't tell me it would all be okay, or to try not to think about it, he was just there.
Having a dog is a fabulous way to find a network of friends and social activities that do not revolve around booze. I go out less in the evening these days, but I have a group of more than ten dog owning friends and I'll meet at least one of them every single day for a walk, a coffee and a good natter.
I've been thinking about all of this because my dog is sick. He's nearly eight years old and he has never been ill. He threw up yesterday and has not eaten anything for twenty-four hours. He won't even look at any of the treats he would normally do anything for.
I can't imagine life without my dog.
We're going to the vet.
Love SM x