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There’s a reason I named her Sunny

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Back in 2009, I was in a pretty bad place.

My boyfriend at the time had up and left me. I was just starting a new job. And I had recently moved into a 400-square-foot studio in Hawaii Kai that felt like it was on the other side of the planet.

So what did I do?

I got a dog.

Well, it didn’t happen exactly like that.

I had been talking about getting a dog before, but the place my boyfriend and I had been renting didn’t allow pets. So it really wasn’t an option. But when I had moved into the studio in Hawaii Kai, it was OK for me to have a pet, so I started looking around. Not seriously, just looking.

Then I saw her.

My friend had called, saying there was a little Pomeranian-toy fox terrier mix at a local pet store. All of her siblings had been adopted; she was still there — and had been for months. One of the workers had felt bad for her and was going to take her home since no one else wanted her.

But I did.

I went down to the pet store and, after she licked my nose while I cradled her in my arms, I knew I had to take her home.

I named her Sunny.

She was the sunshine in my life, exactly what I needed to pull out of the despair in which I had been sinking. I now had a reason to get up every morning, someone to make the little studio feel more homey. I started taking her to the Hawaii Kai Dog Park every afternoon, met a whole new group of friends — all of whom shared my love for dogs — and felt I had a purpose in life again.

Sunny saved me.

Of course, now I have two dogs — we added Indy to the family in 2010 — and life couldn’t be better. Sure, it’s more work taking care of two dogs. I can’t stay out late — need to walk the dogs — and I spend a lot of money on their vet visits, heartworm and flea medicines, grooming, kennel costs and high-quality food. But it’s been so worth it, especially for my mental well-being.

And I’m not alone.

Turns out, dog owners tend to be healthier — mentally and physically — than the average person.

Not only can dogs do amazing things like sniff out cancerous growths and detect low blood sugar levels, but they can act as “social catalysts,” helping people overcome feelings of loneliness and sadness, and force us to lead more healthful lifestyles.

Several studies have shown that dog owners have healthier statistics for several cardiovascular criteria, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than non-owners. Additionally, studies have shown that heart attack sufferers who have pets have longer survival rates than those who don’t.

Good dog owners walk their dogs, and that’s exercise they might never have gotten without their canine companions. (I walk my dogs at least two miles a day, and we go on hikes just about every weekend.) And most owners tend to socialize with other dog owners, thereby improving or enhancing their social life. Even on walks, we meet folks who live in our neighborhoods.

I have to say, as much as I may complain about my dogs — Indy is obsessed with his ball and won’t let me sleep sometimes; Sunny can be aloof and bitchy — I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They are the reason I come home every night, the reason I get out of bed every morning, the reason I buy baby carrots and rawhide sticks.

If only they could cook and clean…

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Today’s happy shot

This is what I wake up to every morning. :)

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Today’s happy shot

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms with kids AND pets! Hey, we’re moms, too!

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Indy rolls over — huge milestone

I have very low expectations when it comes to my dogs.

I’m just glad they know their names — though Sunny has mastered the art of ignoring me, especially when she was in trouble.

So getting them to do advanced moves like sitting and staying is a huge achievement to me.

And when Indy finally learned how to roll over — a trick I had envied other owners teaching their honor-roll dogs — I had to share it with the world.

World, this is Indy’s first real attempt at rolling over. Sit back and enjoy. Applause if you feel compelled.

Indy and Sunny have their own Facebook page: www.facebook.com/hapadogs. Follow them @hapadogshawaii.

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Love me, love my dogs

When I was single, I had a rule: if you dated me, you dated my dog.

So it was only fair that when I went out on my first date with my fiance, Derek, I brought along Sunny, my then-1-year-old toy fox terrier-Pomeranian mix pooch and roommate.

I mean, if this guy was going to like me, he may as well start by liking my dog.

Apparently, I’m not alone in this.

According to new research, a woman is more satisfied in her relationship when her partner feels the same about her pet as she does. Meaning, if she’s close to her dog, he’d better be, too.

That makes total sense.

It’s like anything in a person’s life. If something is important to you, it should matter to your mate. Pets included.

Derek was a good sport about the date. We went hiking with Sunny and another dog I was sitting. And he took to both dogs right away, earning him enough bonus points that we went out to lunch after and dinner a couple of days later.

Some pet owners would even go as far as saying the way a potential mate takes to their dogs or cats is a deal-breaker. If they get along, he’s in; if not, the dog gets dibs on the bed.

Anyone feel the same way — or is it just me?

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