In addition to being great companions and useful for mealtime clean-up when you have small children, dogs are an excellent way to meet your neighbors. We’ve had a fenced in yard in only one of the five houses in which we’ve lived. This has necessitated walking our dog a few times a day. I have met more people while walking my dog than through any other means. First, when you are outside of your home for longer periods of time you increase your chances of actually seeing your neighbors. Second, dogs are great conversation starters. Even people who don’t like dogs will stop to talk, although, usually they are just asking if your dog bites.
An additional benefit of walking the dog is the chance to scope out the neighborhood. I have found some pretty cool places near my house that I might not have found were it not for walking the dog. We had the remnants of a Revolutionary War fort just around the corner from us at our last house. Two houses prior to that, we had an ice cream shop a couple of blocks away. Okay, so I would have found the ice cream shop either way, but it was a good excuse to go get ice cream on a regular basis. Daily walks have also given me plenty of entertainment and mealtime gossip fodder with my husband. “Did you see that the people on the corner put some flamingos in their yard to keep the fake deer company?” “Thankfully, it looks like our neighbors are getting ready to move.” “Avoid the lady in the pink house. She’s a little kooky.” You get the picture.
While having a dog has certainly added some work to my daily task load, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. For someone who moves an average of once every 1.6 years at this point, I would say dog ownership is definitely worth the effort.