How getting a dog will change your life
Since the early years of my life, all I wanted was to get a dog. To be honest, I wanted three. Every day, I would spend a lot of time frolicking with the strays around my house and it used to be the best part of my day. I would often request my family to bring home a dog but that required the unanimous consent of all family members, something, unfortunately, I didn’t have. I spent a lot of time convincing my family to get a dog but all they’d say is “a dog is like a baby, it’s a huge responsibility”. They would ask obvious questions like “who will take it for a walk twice a day”, “who will clean after it”, and “who will prepare its meals”. Without the confidence to say I will, I continued to wait.
This wish finally came true two years ago when I got married. I got a husband and a handsome German Shepherd named Bagheera in a package deal. I was finally a dog mom and was thrilled to take on that role. In a short period, I realised that my family was right. It is a huge responsibility but I also realised that it changed my life – for good! Here are some of the positives that one could look forward to:
You become a responsible person
Having a dog is a huge commitment. Your dog depends on you for everything: food, water, poop, exercise, comfort, hygiene, and most importantly, love and affection. As a dog parent, you have to take care of all these things regardless of where you stand on the lazy meter. Over time, with Bagheera in my life and having to take upon my shoulders the responsibility for all these things, I became more diligent. Knowing that this goofball is dependent on me, transformed me into a responsible and accountable person. Trust me when I say this, it reflects in other parts of my life too. I am no longer afraid to commit to things and I trust myself more with the duties I have in my personal as well as professional life.
You become understanding and patient
My initial days with Bagheera were a whirlpool of emotions. He barked numerous times a day and I had no clue what he wanted. Like every living being, dogs also have wants and needs that they express in their language. However, to understand them, you need a lot of patience and you need to be very observant as well. With time, our bond got better and I started to understand Bagheera’s tricks and cues. I understood his body language and his barks and I could easily decipher what he needed. It wasn’t exactly a joy ride and I would snap often but eventually, it got better. I started paying attention to how he behaved in different situations and how he conveyed what he needed. It required a lot of patience and empathy but then it worked out only to strengthen our bond and understanding.
This is something that you will eventually notice about pet parents. The fact that they have spent so much time building their patience and understanding around their dogs indeed shows in their personality. It is also backed by various research studies that pet owners are comparatively calmer and more compassionate. They also have higher empathy towards others as compared to people who do not have pets. And come to think of it, if a person can easily read the actions of a dog who can’t even convey what it wants, then that person will definitely read people and situations better. The calm and composure in dog owners also help them to be kinder to their own selves. We dog owners become more forgiving towards ourselves and learn to treat ourselves with a little more affinity on days when we are not on top of our games.
You become healthier
To maintain a dog’s good health, and keep it physically active and mentally stimulated, it is imperative to take it for walks twice a day which requires a lot of dedication. However, owing to the love most dog parents have for their dogs, they will happily walk till the end of the world for their dog, if need be. Honestly, walking Bagheera is my favourite part of the day. I am not one of those who enjoy exercising or going to the gym, so it helps me stay active and rope in my step count every single day. Walking him and playing with him also helps me curb my anxiety and stress. Thanks to him, I have noticed a drastic improvement in my mental health over the last two years.
You establish a routine
Dogs live on routines. Once they figure out the time of their meals, walks, and grooming sessions, their bodies start to function like clocks. And they’ll continue to nudge you in case you miss giving them anything at their expected time. In the process of establishing a routine for your dog, you will establish one for yourself too. I have a fixed routine for Bagheera and he is very particular about it, actually far more than I am. Unknowingly, while catering to his needs on time, I developed a regularity in my own life. The time I wake up, go for walks, and eat my meals is nearly fixed. Having a routine has made me more organised and it truly helps me to stay focused and in control of my day.
Your social circle will grow
You will be surprised with how much more you will begin to socialise because of your dog. A lot of people come up to me to pet Bagheera and speak about dogs in general. Then there are other dog parents I interact with just because our dogs like to play together. Even kids from the neighbourhood ring my bell several times just to play with my dog. I have made so many new friends just because of one furry friend, it is amazing!
You will learn to let go of things
In all probability, your dog will misbehave sometimes and break or tear things around the house. However, it is very difficult to stay angry at your dog for a long period. When you become a dog parent, you learn the true meaning of forgiving and forgetting. You might punish your dog for damaging something around the house but soon after, you will end up giving him a belly rub and reminding him that you love her/him.
You will be less stressed
Dogs have a very high emotional quotient. A slight shift in your emotions will be picked up by your dog instantly and trust them to be there for you every single time. Your dog will always lend you a patient ear when you are stressed and have something to share, and will always be around to cheer you up. Similarly, they pick up on your happy energies and will always be there to celebrate with you.
I have had days when I felt extremely low or unhappy and in all those days, Bagheera had sensed that and has been there with me. He has seen me cry and has licked away my tears. He sat by me and comforted me in his ways. It is a priceless feeling that you can experience only when you get a dog. I particularly remember that day when I was down with a fever and had no energy to get up. Bagheera lay down with me all day, carefully touching his head to mine. It might sound like nothing, but it did make me feel a lot better.
After a hectic day at work when you get back home, your dog will greet you with every ounce of energy it has. It will lick you, cuddle you, and will make you forget every worry that you may have, leaving you feeling light and happy. It becomes the favourite part of every dog parent’s day. It doesn’t matter if you leave your dog alone for an hour or an entire day, it will always greet you with the same happiness and energy when you return. Truly making you feel welcomed and at home.
Also, every dog has unique behaviour and goofiness. Dogs will always keep you entertained with their playful and innocent quirks. It will always keep you giggling and will surely keep any stress from building up. Dogs keep you active, reduce your stress level, and improve your mood – all of these benefits of owning a dog add up to a substantial conclusion: they can help you live longer and healthier.
Try it yourself
When you get a dog, that dog becomes the best part of your world but you become that dog’s entire world and that’s the beauty of this relationship. You will be loved, no matter who you are, where you come from, what you wear or how you are as a person. If you love a dog, it will love you back with all its heart and soul and you will see it, you will feel it, every single day. You will always have someone to look after, someone to come home to, someone you can blindly trust. These wonderful selfless creatures will become your best friend in no time and they will continue to amaze you every day with their affection, innocence, and unique tactics. They can truly teach you how to love selflessly and live fully in the present moment. I can keep going on about what a heartwarming experience it is to be a dog parent, but only when you live as one, you will understand how your life will be changed — for good.