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Is there anything sweeter than the love between a child and his/her dog?  Watching my 2 year-old hug our pit bull - dachshund mix (Jello) is one of the purest things I have ever witnessed.  It's second only to hearing her say "I lub you dad," as the most uplifting thing in my life.

As it turns out, Jello is as good for my daughter and 11 year-old son as they are for her.  A new study on the effects of pet ownership on kids has produced some eye-opening (and tail-wagging, for that matter) results that should have every parent encouraging this kind of relationship.

Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger says that the bond forged between your child and their canine companion can help make your kid more successful later in life.  According to his interview with INC.com:

"The lessons aren't about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."

To complete the study, data was collected from 1,646 households over 3 years - specifically with children between 2 and 5 years old.  According to the results, pre-school kids were less likely to have issues with conduct, peers, and had less difficulties than children from families that didn't own dogs.

If your kids have been bugging you for a fluffy little pal, maybe it's time to rethink their request.  Consider it an investment in their future (even if you end up walking it).