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Tony Zizza

Prescribe a Dog Instead of a Drug!
By Tony Zizza
Oct 21, 2007 - 12:14:16 AM

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If you sit long enough in Atlanta traffic, (which you will), your mind really starts to wander.  Such is the case with me every morning.  And this morning turned out to be no different.
At first, I ask myself questions that I already know the answers to.  "What am I going to have for dinner tonight?"  "Well, it will be pasta, veggies, salad, and garlic bread."  "What do you think of the new Sara Evans CD?"  "Well, it's fantastic."  "How many miles are you going to jog right after work?"  "Well, the usual six." 
Traffic literally crawls on GA 400 South, and I begin to think about a very serious issue.  Drugs.  We have become a society of drug addicts.  We falsely believe that there is a pill for just about every alleged ill.  Ultimately, we feel cheated if we go to our doctor's office and do not walk out with a prescription or two.  Or three.
Then, for some strange reason, I think about - dogs.  Yes, dogs.  Dogs have an absolutely curious way of making you feel better.  Better with a capital B, I might add.  They bring an incredible amount of comfort to your spirit. Certainly, dogs can deliver a supreme sense of wellness that is often missing in this writer's opinion from designer mood and sleep drugs we (and the medical profession) are far too quick to rely on.
So there you have it.  Brutal Atlanta traffic.  Questions on what to have for dinner.  The danger of drugs.  The power and passion of  dogs.  Putting this all together, I have a new mantra I'd like to share.  It goes something like this, and it is geared to all of us. 
Prescribe a dog instead of a drug.  That's right.  In fact, this mantra is worth repeating.  Prescribe a dog instead of a drug.  I say we print up t-shirts.  Sing it from every mountain, valley or highway over pass.  Challenge all who are in the medical profession to give it some consideration. 
Think about it.  There are millions of dogs who are waiting to be adopted.  There are millions of parents who think there is something mentally wrong with themselves or their children.  Significant evidence exists that shows that we are a over-medicated nation.  Where does it end?  Shouldn't we think long and hard before even starting a life full of drugs?
Dogs bring a sense of compassion and responsibility to a troubled household.  Having a dog in your life, and in the lives of your children who might be smack in the middle of tough times, might very well help where you thought no more help outside of a prescription bottle was possible.  Again, dogs introduce a strong set of both responsibilities and pleasure.  Dogs help you focus on, well, them.  And this forces you to finally take the focus off  your real and unreal problems.
Truthfully, I realize my mantra of "Prescribe a dog instead of a drug" will not fly very well in the medical community.  I understand very few adults and children will walk out of their doctor's office with a prescription for a puppy rather than Prozac. I don't think hundreds of thousands of drug reps would be too happy with this sea change in how we seek to feel better in this dynamic culture of ours.
It's not enough, or often times, correct to just say, "My child and I can't handle the responsibility of taking care of a dog."  Can't we give it a second thought?  Can't we focus on the fact that responsibility is just one piece of the puzzle?  After all, with responsibility comes love, freedom, and compassion.  To take care of a dog is to truly take care of yourself.  It's a win-win situation for both humans and canines!
So, remember the mantra.  Prescribe a dog instead of a drug.  We won't likely change the fact overnight that we are indeed a nation under medication.  Nevertheless, we have the ability to take care of ourselves and our children the best way we can.
And this should include bringing a dog into your home.  
Tony Zizza is a free-lance writer who lives in Atlanta, GA.  He writes frequently about dogs and popular culture.  Reach him via email at:

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