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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.