Everybody should have a dog – they remind us we are lucky to be alive | Arwa Mahdawi

A documentary series called Dogs is coming to Netflix. As you may have surmised, it’s about dogs. Each episode tells the story of a canine-human bond, including that of Ayham, a Syrian refugee who had to leave his beloved husky behind when he fled and is now desperate to get him back. The dogumentary, its creators told Variety, is supposed to be an “emotional salve”; an antidote to these “times of division, volatility and confusion”.

I’m in enthusiastic agreement with the idea that our four-legged friends make the world a brighter place. I haven’t always been a dog person, I should say. The only pet I had growing up was a stick insect – not the most rewarding of companions – and I never wanted a dog. But a few years ago, I got a little rescue mutt called Rascal with an ex (we share custody, a very modern arrangement) and he changed my life.

That isn’t hyperbole; he really did. I have always been prone to depression, but Rascal has made me a much happier person. Seeing the excitement he gets out of the littlest things (a squirrel! A ball! A pungent rubbish bin!) is a constant reminder that the world is full of wonders, and we are lucky to be alive. It is a constant reminder to slow down, smell the roses and find joy in small things. And, if I am feeling down, Rascal forces me to get out of bed and take him for a walk.

Having a dog makes living in a city such as New York a much friendlier experience. People smile as you pass; you have pleasant chats with strangers. Dogs really are nature’s antidepressant and, with the world looking darker by the day, I reckon we could all do with upping our dose.