I have something embarrassing to admit: I don't have a dog, and I've always said I don't want one anytime soon. I am from a family of not-dog-people, so I blame genetics. People look at me like I have three heads when I admit that I'm not the biggest canine fan. I even ran away from my cousin's dog one Thanksgiving because I mistook the puppy's excitement for attack mode. (You probably think I was a toddler; this happened a mere two years ago.) You'd think I'd stay away from puppy pics on the Internet, but this year has been a rough one, and I'm very thankful for the #IfItWerentForDogs hashtag and tweets after this past week. No, I've never been a dog lover, but even I could use some furry friendship right now.
I mean, we came into 2017 mourning Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Since then, we've lost beloved superstars like Mary Tyler Moore and Chester Bennington. We've seen hurricanes devastate our nation everywhere from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico. Don't get me started on Trump and the 24-hour news cycle that breathlessly covers his every move. (Also, it's only been nine months since the Inauguration. Send help.) All of this negative news can impact our mental health in profound ways. We could all take some time to practice self-care, and dogs (having one as well as looking at cute pics of them) have been proven to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Dogs help you stay active and less stressed out, and they may even help kids avoid asthma. Emotional support dogs are dispatched en masse when tragedy strikes — after the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month, dogs from all over the country were brought to Nevada to comfort the victims.
#IfItWerentForDogs started trending on Twitter Wednesday, and the premise is simple: What would our lives be like if we didn't have dogs? The answer, according to Twitter, is that it'd be pretty heckin' bad. The U.S. Secret Service and Department of Defense even got in on the action, and my timeline quickly became too pure to handle. I'm notoriously indifferent when it comes to most dogs, but my cold heart began to melt when I began reading all the reasons people love their pets. From the silly to the super sweet, it became clear that dogs have changed all of us for the better — even those of us who aren't dog owners.
Another benefit of hanging out with dogs: they're beautifully oblivious to what's going on. Dogs don't know North Korea is still super down to start nuclear war, or that white nationalist Richard Spencer is currently wreaking havoc on a college campus in the name of "free speech." Dogs are just hanging out, ready to play fetch or frisbee or whatever it is you need to do to take your mind off things. If it weren't for dogs, we'd all be even more miserable than we are. Twitter gave us thousands of reasons we're all lucky dogs exist, but here are 21 impossible-to-deny reasons that dogs are the best (and arguably better than humans).