Say Good-Boy to Hypertension: A Humorous Look at Trading in Your Pills For a Dog

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By: Janice Arenofsky

Researchers say that owning a dog can lower your blood pressure.Think what this means. A hug to Rover may soothe your cardiovascularsystem more than a fistful of beta blockers. And what about strokingSweet Pea? Send in the endorphins.

Imagine if dogs found their way into the pharmaceutical marketplace.You might browse the PDR (Physicians Drug Reference) and see "canisfamiliaris" under the generic listing for Prozac. Airlines mightsuggest that passengers pack their pooches in their carry-on luggageinstead of sending them through as baggage.

Your family doctor might tell you to lose ten pounds, but, insteadof pulling out his pad and scrawling a prescription for buproprionphosphate or some such chemical fix, he might recommend a Heinz-69canine. "Pick out a young, hyper one," Doc might say. "Walk himevery night for a month, and that extra weight will be history."

Of course you must beware of the side effects: Bassets can make yousleepy, and you've got to watch out for those drooling St. Bernards.Little dogs that yip and squeak, like Chihuahuas and Pekineses, canmake you irritable, and large dogs with super-size poop can set yourolfactory glands back ten years.

If you're lucky, your doctor might be well-read and knowledgeable."Try a Miniature Schnauzer," he might say. "They like nothing betterthan cuddling up next to you in bed."

Still, you might be unsure whether the dog – somewhat of asemi-controlled substance – is a legitimate substitute for medication.A list of the pros and cons should put your mind to rest.

Pros

  1. You may forget to take pills, but dogs will always remind you of their presence, usually by plastering your face with wet ones. By contrast, pills loaf around on the kitchen table or bathroom counter, daring you to remove their child-proof caps.
  2. It's more socially acceptable to play Frisbee with "Spot" than to remove a suspicious looking pill from a tiny container and gulp it down with a questionable beverage.
  3. Pills require props – for example, a Perrier or a diet-cola. Petting your dog can be a one-handed affair – a bonus for Vegas gamblers.
  4. Pill prescriptions need to be refilled every month or so, but if you're lucky, a good dog can last ten to fifteen years.
  5. Pills are dead giveaways you are medically challenged. But dogs will keep the public guessing – e.g., Is Fifi a prescription or a pet?
  6. Pills sometimes get misplaced in purses, drawers, or attaché cases. Dogs, however, will instantly appear should a half-eaten Oreo accidentally fall onto the kitchen floor.
  7. You run the risk of mistakenly receiving the wrong drug from your friendly pharmacist, but dogs always sniff out the right person.

Cons

  1. You must first housebreak a dog before you can use him properly. This can take up to six years.
  2. Dogs can have their "off" days, with cranky growls and mean-spirited nips.
  3. Dogs frighten easily during thunderstorms, earthquakes, and other loud noises. Some have been known to howl woefully or hide under the bed. On the other hand, pills stand calm and cool in medicine cabinets, peeking out courageously from behind the calamine lotion and dental floss.
  4. Dogs are not as mobile or portable as we would like to think. Should you go camping or RVing, they require a boxful of toys, their security blankies, and their favorite treat. Pills require nothing more than the plastic containers they come in.
  5. Dogs will not work 24/7. Their schedules generally consist of twelve hours of sleep, two hours of food consumption, and six hours of chewing up your Prada pumps. That leaves one hour for therapy. Pills are ready to rumble any time.
  6. As a pill-popper, you get to frequent New Age festivals and shop in trendy boutiques with names like "Wild Wheat" and "Health A-Go-Go." Dogs do their best work during summer reruns.
  7. Pill people are perceived as more intelligent than dog owners. It could be the glasses thing, but then again, it could be the standing-out-in-the-rain-thing with an umbrella and a plastic baggie.

So, that's the story. What's it gonna be? Pills or pups? Can'tcommit? Then compromise. Use both, but check with your HMO first.And, for your own safety, if there's a deductible, for heaven'ssake, don't tell Rover.

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