By Sharad KC

Last Wednesday, my Facebook & Instagram feed were flooded with pictures of all sorts of dogs, some playing, some relaxing on the beach, and some just enjoying the comfort of the couch. It was National Dog Appreciation Day in the United States, celebrated on August 26 of every year. As I went through the pictures of my fellow dog owners and their appreciation towards the most beloved pet in human history, I could not help to think how blessed I’ve been to have one.

Before my junior year in high school, I was never really fond of having pets. This was precisely because of the fact that we had a cat. This feline was particularly hard to cope with. Not only would it bring rat carcasses inside my room, but also live snakes and lizards; basically anything it could carry in its mouth that would scare me to death. That all changed during my junior year when our cat just left the house and never came back.

That very year my sister brought a dog home from the foothills of the Himalayas, and all of a sudden it became this fluffy little pet that we all wanted to love. Our first dog, Shimbo (pictured above), became a part of our family, and I began to appreciate having a pet. I could now play with him, try to teach him some tricks, go out for a walk in the neighborhood, and occasionally run after him when he escaped from the leash.

Dogs are great companions to have, and my appreciation for the canine grows every day. They provide some great life lessons and help us stay positive and motivated. In addition to these great life lessons, dogs also provide some valuable lessons in economics:

1. Incentives work – Anyone who has ever tried to train a dog knows that incentives are a must to teach any tricks. And dogs respond to this really well. Without incentives, it is almost impossible to teach them anything.

2. Competition helps you improve – Dogs are very competitive, even from a very young age. A couple of years ago, my sister and I each rescued a dog. During their first few months, we could see them compete for treats, pats, and ‘Good jobs!’ Competition is very helpful in improving commitment and quality.

Finally, a recent study showed that dogs avoid people who are mean to their owners. It’s comforting to know, I quote, “So if you’re a dog owner, you can take comfort in the idea that if someone is mean to you, you’ll have at least one “friend” by your side.”