Taking on the responsibility of a dog at a young age was a big leap for us, but my husband and I both grew up in dog families and the reality was that even though we had each other and had an apartment that we loved in a neighborhood that we loved... it would never feel like home without a dog to us. We found our sweet girl on Craigslist (A military family had just gotten her and then got orders to Korea a few weeks later. They wanted to find a home for her before their children got more attached.) and have been happier and happier ever since. Don't get me wrong; Wicket is a normal dog who begs for human food (especially expensive things like lox and sushi... she's fancy like that) and a normal dog who has accidents and a normal dog who wants attention when I have to work... but she is still the best thing we ever brought into our home.
With that in mind, here are the five reasons a dog is the best thing for your home:
- You will get tons more exercise. I liked to work out before I had my dog, but I absolutely get more exercise now that we have her. Wick isn't a dog that needs tons of long walks or runs (she's a Shih Tzu), but I still walk her many times throughout the day, usually a mile or so. I run around the apartment with her because she loves to play chase and race her up the stairs to our walk up. That doesn't add up to a crazy killer body, but it does add a lot more serotonin to my brain and our walk up stairs haven't caused me to be out of breath in months.
- You get in touch with your neighborhood and neighbors. Having a dog forces you to be out and about. Luckily, I live in a dog friendly neighborhood, where many businesses put out bowl of water or allow dogs inside and TONS of people have dogs. I have met so many more people in our neighborhood than I would if I didn't have a dog. I would never have a reason to be outside so often and I wouldn't stop to talk to so many people.
- You see your partner in a new way. There is nothing like watching your partner love and care for something. It melts my heart to see my husband carry around our teeny dog, to see him play with her, and to see him light up when he sees her when he comes in from work. I see him a totally new light now that we both take care of her and I appreciate him so much more. She has strengthened our relationship so much.
- You prioritize fun more. Wick has interrupted the writing of this post two times to play already. My normal life before having a dog was working, having dinner with my husband, working out, and working on side projects (DIY, art, or continuing my work from the school day). I come from a family that really prioritizes work and it's a daily struggle for me to stop finding things that need doing. However, because I have my dog and she is so high energy, there are times when I just have to shut the laptop, put the grading away, or put the paintbrush down and chase my dog around or wrestle with her for toys. It's so much more healthy than working constantly.
- It's healthy for it to not just be about you. Everyday that I stay late at work, I think about the time that I'm missing with my dog. Extra errands that I take on often become a question of, "Is this necessary? Because I could be walking my dog..." It amazes me how many extra little things get filtered out by that. I don't really need to go window shop at the mall, I don't really need to stop at Starbucks for a coffee, I don't really have to drive all the way to Virginia Beach just for a trip to Whole Foods. What I do need to do is get home to my dog, my husband, and our friends. It's so much less about me and the things that I like and so much more about my relationships with others and this animal that I'm responsible for, and that is absolutely better for me.