I've never considered myself a dog person, so I'm not quite sure how I ended up with a 3-pound Havachon puppy two weeks ago. Nevertheless I am now a dog owner and I'm not afraid to admit that I have unexpectedly become one of those dog lovers who thinks nothing of letting my puppy kiss me on the lips. Despite my aversion to that wet dog smell, poop on the rug and licked furniture all over the house, I have to admit that I have fallen madly in love with this adorable, furry, cuddly, fun little pup, who showers me with kisses several times daily and who happens to by laying on my lap as I write this column. My new four-legged friend named Jackson got me thinking, is a dog really man's best friend? What are the emotional benefits of having a furry friend? (And I'm not talking about a boyfriend who has a lot of body hair!) What does a dog's love give us? What does it do for single people? And how does having a dog impact families? For answers to these questions, I reached out to Lisa Kaplin, a North Shore-based psychologist and life coach, who also happens to be a dog owner. Kaplin said so many of her clients – particularly those who are going through a divorce or becoming empty nesters have asked her, "What do you think about me getting a dog?" "I tell them, 'Don't get a pet to fill a need. Get one because you want a mutual relationship,'" said Kaplin, who with her husband and kids got their goldendoodle Ginger 10 years ago. "You have to be there for the dog as much as the dog is there for you." Kaplin, who has been a life coach for six years and a psychologist for 17, said the wrong reason for getting a dog is because you think the dog will fix your life problems, and that you won't be sad and lonely anymore. The right reason: because you might enjoy the companionship and the emotional investment that an animal requires. So, what does Fido bring to the table? Kaplin and I came up with a few things: 1. Humor and energy A dog brings out the playful side of everyone. We're all so busy and serious and stressed, and dogs help us forget about things for a little while. They do things that make you laugh out loud, that make you giggle and smile and that make you feel