5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My Dog

It’s been two months since we brought Donut home and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post since I brought her home, but was originally going to wait until we had had her for around six months. There was no reason for this number; it just felt like a good benchmark to reflect on what she had added to our lives.

In the short two months we’ve had her, however, I already feel like there are a ton of things I’ve either learned for the first time or have been reminded that I need to work on. I decided that pets start teaching us things as soon as they enter our lives, so it felt like a good time to share some life lessons that I’ve learned from this little nugget.

Be patient

Patience is a big deal with a dog — especially a puppy. Since I had had one before, I was pretty well equipped to deal with accidents and realizing that she won’t immediately understand everything. Neil had a little more trouble with this, but I will say that he had (and has) much more patience with her while training.

The main thing that really tested my patience was her nonstop biting of me (and not Neil). I couldn’t sit by her on the couch without her nipping me — HARD and nonstop. My arms were often covered in bruises and I would have to go in another room to give myself a break and cool down. She did this for weeks before we were finally able to break her of the habit, and now she sleeps on me and wants to be near both of us.

I really had to practice patience during that time and keep reminding myself that it was only a phase. When you’re in an uncomfortable situation, it can be hard to see anything outside the immediate, but reminding myself to be patient and just keep working on it helped me eventually get there. It was a good reminder for all kinds of life situations.

Shit happens

I mean this both literally and figuratively. The first day we brought Donut home, she immediately went to into our bathroom and pooped on the floor. Although she hasn’t had an accident in the house for weeks now, it took us awhile to get her there.

Aside from the literal, all kinds of things we weren’t expecting happened within the first month of getting her. Unexpected expenses, a middle of the night trip to the emergency vet when she fell off the bed, and figuring out how to train her to stop biting me were some of the main ones.

As a Type A person, I like routine and being able to control what’s going on in my life. With a puppy, that goes out the window. You have to learn how adapt to change much quicker and let things go.

Selflessness

As much as I like doing things for other people, I feel like there are plenty of times when I can be selfish. On one hand, that’s a good thing because it means I’m taking care of myself and what I need, but without making compromises and thinking about others on a regular basis, I can start to migrate to more time on the selfish side of the spectrum.

Taking care of a puppy means you have someone else to take care of. Someone else you need to feed, walk, and love them. Now that we have figured out our routine, I know when I need to get things done and may need to put her in her crate for a bit, but I also know when she needs to go to the dog park even though I may just want to sit on the couch for an hour. It’s learning how to balance your needs and the needs of someone else.

Be present 

Before Donut, Neil and I both got in the habit of sitting next to each other on the couch and on our respective phones. We were in the same room, literally right next to each other, but not interacting at all.

Getting her forced us to put down the phones and pay attention to what was right in front of us. Even if we wanted to do something on the computer or phone, she often wouldn’t let us. From trying to steal shoes to climbing on us, it required us to watch her and not continually escape into a black hole of distraction.

Donut has made us focus on the now. We spend more time with each other and with her and I feel like it’s brought us closer together.

Don’t judge

This is absolutely my favorite thing about owning a dog and dogs in general. This is one of the reasons I loved sitting and watching dogs interact at dog parks even before I got Donut. #creeperstatus

Dogs don’t judge. The minute Donut sees a new dog, she is immediately excited and can’t wait to say hello. She hugs other dogs. She loves to go to the dog park and make new friends. She has no idea who these other dogs are and she is often meeting them for the first time. It doesn’t matter.

This probably sounds super cheesy, but the other day I took Donut to the park and when I saw how excited she was to meet another dog, it almost made me cry. I can’t tell you how much I wished that humans could be that open with each other. It made me reflect on how children are often the same way before life experiences and influences start to build walls that are higher and harder to get over with each passing year.

If you take anything away from this post today, it’s to approach new relationships as a dog would. Imagine how amazing life would be.

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13 Comments

  1. David
    September 11, 2017 / 5:12 am

    Well said.. Thanks for reminding us

  2. September 11, 2017 / 7:52 am

    Aw this is so nice to read!!! Your pup is a cutie! I can’t wait to get a dog. Gotta wait a year or two, but I have total puppy fever!
    Carrie this fit chick recently posted…Recipes, Round-Ups and Q+AMy Profile

  3. Konika Singh
    September 11, 2017 / 8:35 am

    Your last lesson almost made me cry – you are so right, and the world would be a much better place. 🙂

  4. September 11, 2017 / 9:19 am

    Wow, these lessons are so similar to things I’ve learned. God so graciously used my dogs to teach me that I need far more patience and I need to get off my phone and just enjoy their curiosity and energy and life! They do teach me too, to not hold my stuff too tightly, after they’ve chewed it up (because I wasn’t watching.) I’m so glad you got Donut. I see that she adds so so so much to your lives!
    Emily recently posted…Comment on Life Lately : Learning to Wait With Patience and Hope by Jamie@TheMomGeneMy Profile

  5. September 11, 2017 / 12:58 pm

    I could have written this exact same post. I’ve had my pup for about 7 weeks now and the two best things about adopting him (besides the obvious) are that he broke me from my routine and he makes me more social. Actually, I think I’m going to write a post on this- not to copy but because I’ve been thinking about it!

  6. September 11, 2017 / 4:27 pm

    AWWWW I loved this post so much!! Every one of those lessons is so so key, and I can so relate to them having had my dog for quite a few years now. I think one thing I would add is how easily they find joy in everything. Like I love watching my dog play with a little handkerchief as if it’s the coolest thing ever, and she just gets so so excited. And how unconditionally they love us, even after we yell at them they’ll still come and snuggle up and you know they love you just as much as ever.
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  7. September 12, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    This is so true. I grew up with dogs, but I’ve never really lived with a dog if that makes sense (they were outside all of the time). Since living with Felix, my boyfriend, and his two pets, I have discovered an entirely new meaning of life, patience and love. Tuki, the pup, is just so friendly and wants to be everyone’s best friend. He also lives for us, if that makes sense too. We’re what he has, and his excitement when we walk through the door brings tears to my eyes. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. I’m overwhelmed thinking about it! Haha. Pets are great, but dogs are just the best. <3
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  8. Amanda
    September 12, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    Awww, so cute! Those are great lessons!

  9. September 13, 2017 / 10:54 am

    I’ve never really thought about my pup and her interactions with other dogs but looking back you are totally right. She still has some reservations on larger dogs but still wants to play and get to know each one! Its so crazy how they can change our perspective on some of the smallest things!

  10. September 13, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    I totally feel you on this post. Abbie has taught me so much about patience and putting someone else’s needs above my own.

  11. September 15, 2017 / 12:47 pm

    5 LIFE LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY DOG is a great and informative post you remembering, thanks for sharing !!

  12. POLINA F ZIONTS
    September 17, 2017 / 1:56 am

    Spot on! Having pets, especially dogs, brought me into a frame of mind where i appreciated life much more than before. Our pets become mirrors of ourselves & comfort us & provide love.

    When i got BG she was being cleaned by donut. I think that’s them wrestling & when we took the pic they were kissing & playing.

    I woke up yesterday to a nip on the neck that broke the skin & never had so many things chewed up. BG is still a great addition to our home & lives. As annoying as endless puppy energy can be if not fully let out she keeps us smiling & on our toes. My older dog seems younger & i love the snuggles.

    I battled with a lot of demons in my 20s & 30s & my dogs helped me become an independent & healthy person. I improved my life to improve the quality of their life. In a lot of ways they helped me love myself, so that i could be able to love others easily.

    They teach you about love, loyalty, responsibility & being playful. the precious, unknown amount of time we have with them has impacted my appreciation for life & friendships. The animal pack is also a very interesting dynamic & i like the reminder that we are animals too.

    I dont know who i would be without having had the company & good times with my furbabies.

    BG, “The notorious ruth bader Ginsburg”, is temporarily being called “begis & kathy lee”. When she stops eating rocks we may consider returning to her original name. 😀

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