A Tale of Two Dogs

June 2023
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Ashley Daniels

… And Why We Should All Have Pets

My four-legged besties, Po (left) and Sage (right), from a few years ago staring intently at a dog treat held out of view. 

When I was piecing together this issue’s View from Here, National Pet Day fell on April 11. And, while that celebration of animal babies nationwide has since passed, it’s still perfect timing to put my pets front and center to align with our annual Cutest Pet Contest. 

We all think we have the cutest pets, which is why our team sifts through hundreds of nominations from readers for this issue to narrow down the best of the pets. I have two of my own at home, in my opinion. 

We adopted Sage, our sweet blonde hound-lab mix, from the Grand Strand Humane Society nine years ago at about 3 years old. Today, she’s pushing 13 and struggling to see, but still overflowing with oodles of love and loyalty. She became a part of our family when my two older boys were much younger, my husband was working late nights as a chef, and I wanted a companion to safeguard the home. Sage, a culinary reference for my hubby, has done just that over the years, especially when I was pregnant with my youngest son, who is now 7. She had this natural instinct to stay close and protect me over those nine months of pregnancy.

In 2020, we made a pandemic puppy purchase from a private owner listing online. It was a risk, but, on a wing and a prayer, the newborn Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix puppy we named Po (a nod to the main character in “Kung Fu Panda” and another culinary connection) became Sage’s four-legged sibling, bringing a bundle of energy. And that’s exactly the kind of relationship they have today, like a human brother and sister. 

Besides our pets being considered another member of the family – maybe even cuter and cuddlier – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that pets have health benefits for their owners, such as exercise, getting outside, and opportunities for socializing. In 2021, nearly 64 million households had at least one pet, with dogs as the most popular. 

Studies show that more physical benefits for pet owners include: 

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Reduced depression and feelings of loneliness
  • Reduced anxiety and symptoms of PTSD
  • Better cognitive functions (especially in older adults)

But we pet owners don’t need a researched study or national report to convince us that owning a pet enhances our lives. Just look at all those loving photos you all sent in of your fur babies posing just to make you happy. 

With that, I’ve included photos of my besties, too. Here’s to you, Sage and Po!