In a dog-eat-dog world, your pup truly is your best friend — and can make your life better in unexpected ways

If you don't have a dog, I'm here to urge you to consider adopting one this holiday season or in the New Year. Don't do anything rash, but do consider it.

Not only can I say that the adoption of my dog, Gracie, was the best thing I did in 2012 — but it seems there's proof every where I turn that dogs are not only smarter than we think, but enrich our lives in ways we don't even know.

Just this afternoon, I ran across a story about 10 golden retrievers — "comfort dogs" — that were transported to Newtown, Conn., to help aid the grieving.

“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, told the Chicago Tribune. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”

On Monday, the dogs will be with Sandy Hook students for after-school activities.

”There are a lot of people that are hurting,“ Hetzner told the Tribune. It's ”good for the children to have something that is not the shooting.“

A recent dog story that brought a big smile to my face was about a New Zealand animal welfare group that is teaching dogs to drive cars — specifically, Mini Coopers like mine (don't get any ideas, Gracie). Watch this excellent CBS story about the canine driver training program.

This article says the purpose of the driving program is to show people how smart dogs are — and make them more desirable for adoption. Huh? I guess I'm not following the logic — there's a lot you can teach a dog to do before you hand over the keys to your car, though it would be nice to be able to send Fluffy to the store for ice cream.

The other day as I was driving around town, I heard a radio piece about how dogs can lower your blood pressure and improve cooperation and productivity in the workplace. That just underscored what I already know from being around my dog — she just makes me a better person.

Here are some great articles I found about the impact of dogs in the workplace:

Fast Company, July 18, 2012: Pooch Power: What Dog-Friendly Workplaces Can Do For Your Business

Bangor Daily News, Dec. 17, 2012: Dogs in the workplace: What every business owner needs to know

NPR: July 4, 2012: Office Stress Dogging You? Trying Punching in with Fido.

Time, March 30, 2012: How ‘Bring Your Dog to Work’ Days Could Lower Stress

Postscript: As I wrote this, my dog came in from the backyard and tracked mud all over my living room carpet. There are some downsides to dog ownership ...

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Katy, I saw that clip

on teaching dogs to drive. Reminded me of so many dog (and other animal) cartoons by Gary Larson, creator of "The Far Side". When I need a laugh, I'll google "The Far Side" and enjoy some of the animal cartoons...Sunny...