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The Power of Connection: Lessons from Dogs and Children

So, I've been dog-sitting my daughter's two adorable cocker spaniels, Oliver and Barry, and let me tell you, these pups are all about playtime! One thing that really caught my attention is how much they love playing fetch, especially Oliver. My daughter even purchased this nifty ball-launching machine that he can operate himself. It's genius, really. But here's the kicker: Oliver only seems to enjoy it when I'm right there with him. As soon as I step away, he loses interest and stops playing fetch. It got me thinking about how this connects to my experiences with my own children.


It's truly fascinating how Oliver's preference is for me to throw the ball and play fetch with him, rather than relying on a machine. I recall similar situations with my kids. Whenever I would sign them up for activities or sports where they didn't have any familiar faces, they would quickly lose interest and sometimes even quit altogether. However, when I enrolled them in the same activity alongside one of their buddies, it magically became their favorite thing to do!


This reflection also reminded me of a time when my son became completely absorbed in video games. It was a constant struggle to get him out of his room, and one day I finally decided to take a stand and remove the video game console. But little did I know that machine was his only portal to connection. It was through gaming that he found a sense of community and companionship. That moment made me realize that as a family, we needed to engage more with our child and help him establish friendships and play beyond a screen.


Perhaps, like Oliver, you've found yourself gradually stopping the playfulness in your life. Some may attribute it to aging, physical limitations, or the increasing presence of machines in our daily lives. However, I invite you to take a moment today to pause and reflect on what it would be like to have someone metaphorically, or literally, throw you a ball, to reignite that spark of joy that comes with play. Maybe consider being the one to initiate play with your child, family member or friend. Reconnecting with the joy of play is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.





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