Forget dogs - tripods are a man's best friend (well, if he's a photographer). Eliminating many of the factors that create crappy photos, including the instability of holding the camera up by hand, photo blurs, and general strain of weilding those hulking digital SLRs, tripods are always there to lend a helping leg. Or three.
Watch this photography video to learn about the different types of tripods and how to use each of them. Tripods come in tiny travel sized versions but can get extremely tall and elaborate for photo studios.