Becoming a father taught me a lot and forced me to mature as a person. Before having kids, I wasn’t as empathetic as I am now. I learned that moments arise where it’s important to put someone’s needs above your own.

Adopting a dog had a similar impact on me.

Be here, now.

My original feelings about our family adopting a dog.

At first, I was resistant to having a dog. I didn’t want to sacrifice the time to give proper care. But, I didn’t actually know that sacrifice firsthand. Not with pets at least. I had learned that with kids, though.

So, you can imagine my frustration with trying to get the new family dog to pee outdoors rather than on my cloths. Or taking the dog for a walk and waning her to poo, only to have her dig in the grass and sniff the earth. I was always rushing her to potty so we can get back inside. Rush, rush, rush!

One day I rushed my dog outside because nobody else took her out. I was certain she’d either pee on something or her bladder would burst. I rush her out and I’m expecting her to urinate as soon as she steps in the grass.

But no. Instead, she chooses to lie in the sun.

Rather than getting in a huff this time, I followed suit. My dog reminded me that we need to be here. Now. Stop thinking so much about the next moment and live in the present one. Stop and smell the roses. Relax. Enjoy some chill time with your dog. It can be good for you.

Patience

Running and carefree.

I thought my kids already taught me the lesson of patience. Well, my dog has given me a refresher course. I’m not saying my dog misbehaves all the time. But, I had to learn forgiveness with potty accidents and other messes. I had to re-learn patience with my family. Sometimes I see everyone else ignoring our dog’s needs. I have to either stir them to action, or do it myself. I have to also remember that you can’t expect kids to show adult level responsibility. So if you get a dog for your kids, you can’t expect them to take care of everything. They won’t do it on their own. You’ll need to teach them to become the caretaker that they promised to be while they begged you for a dog. And that, too, takes patience.

Concern for Life

After having kids, I saw my children in ever other child I saw. So, to see a suffering child is to see my own in some small way. My children drew empathy out of me that I didn’t have before.

Having a dog is similar. I see Lily in the dog that darts across a busy street. I ask myself where the owner is. I ask myself if that could be my dog one day. I have more concern for animals in general. Something I didn’t give much thought to in the past.

Now, I’m not picking up any new stray animals or anything. But, I have a new awareness and concern for the pet population and unwanted animals.

Dogs Make Good Friends

A “Be here. Now.” moment.

Sometimes you don’t know how a person will respond to your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you don’t know what to say or how to approach a touchy topic with a loved one. But a dog doesn’t have that layer of complexity. They seem to know when your down, and they try to comfort you. They’re always happy to see you whether you were gone for five minutes or for a few days. This doesn’t mean you forego your human relationships. But sometimes when humans don’t seem to understand– your dog gets it. The humans usually come around at some point. But, the dog gets it right then. This may be the best lesson my dog has taught me. Some may argue whether or not dogs are man’s best friend. I’ve come to believe that they make a great friend once they form a bond with you.

What lessons has your dog taught you? How has your dog changed your life and family? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your own personal experience transitioning to being a dog person. Isn’t it amazing that our pets can teach us how to calm down and enjoy life? I resented my wife wanting a new dog because I knew that meant more work for me. I am home all the time so I feed and water and let them out.
    Watching a new little dog become a full-sized Labradoodle was a joy. It happens so fast with dogs and he taught me patience all over again. If you don’t have patience you may not want a Labradoodle. They are the full-time derp dogs that make some people frustrated.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing as well! Yeah, I didn’t realize being forced into pet parenthood would have any upside. I’ve had moments of resentment, too, along the way. At the beginning, I was doing all the work. After some discussions with family, they help out a lot more. But, I still do most of the “heavy lifting” so to speak. Still their help lightens the load. I had no idea what sort of dog I had adopted. Later I discovered she’s a wirehaired dachshund. They’re usually lively and reasonably intelligent. A little sneaky if they think you aren’t watching. They have character and can be strong willed, though. I guess that’s where I learned to enjoy the moment. Because very often I’m trying to walk her around the block and she just sits and sniffs the air. That is, unless I bring treats along!

      Reply
  2. Hello Derek, wow this was so much fun to read! I have not in recent years been a pet owner. But I so remember when my babies were babies, grin, and having a large dog. It was such a handful of love, more work and giggles. And this dog in particular loved to jump fences so we never knew where he went or how safe he was. Talk about worry!
    Doesn’t it seem that whomever we bring into our lives adds so much more depth and layers to our capacity to love? Lovely indeed.
    In peace and gratitude, ariel

    Reply
  3. Hi Ariel! Thanks so much for sharing! Yes, I agree. Any living entity that we bring into our lives adds so much more to us. Sometimes that’s hard to take in at first because of the work and sacrifice involved. I know at time’s I’ve even felt a little resentment. But, the depth of character that comes in the end is usually worth it.

    Reply

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