I started this post last year after our first couple of months of fostering Rhett. FYI Rhett update at the bottom of the post!
Now I’m a week and a half into puppy training our new puppy, Bodhi and I’m questioning if getting a dog really was the best decision for my health…
But despite the 3:00 AM wake-up calls, chewing EVERYTHING and a small bout of giardia, I have no doubts that once this little guy is trained, I’ll go back to my belief that dogs truly are the gateway to optimal health.
Also he’s currently having puppy dreams next to me in bed, while I write this post and I cannot imagine anything that could make me happier.
I remember taking Rhett on a walk during a cold, winter morning with a blizzard circling around us. As someone who HATES winter, being forced to wake up early to go outside is not exactly my dream activity. But when a man’s gotta pee, he’s gotta pee.
For as much as I may have hated this activity, I knew that he was the reason I was up, dressed and outside when I normally would have been on my third round of snooze in bed. And then I looked over and watched as he gleefully hopped around in the snow, blissfully unaware of how cold and dark it was outside. Digging deep down through the frozen earth to reach his treasure, a stick, all I could think of was how beautiful it was to watch the simple pleasures of life play out in front of me. Suddenly my frozen eyelashes and icicle toes mattered very little. I was fixated on this display or true, authentic pleasure.
It made me realize how much my life has changed since getting a dog, and perhaps more than anything, how much healthier I’ve felt – both physically and mentally- since expanding our little family.
Of course Rhett is now back with his Mom and we’re in the process of training Bodhi, but everything I realized in that instant still holds true. Getting a dog was truly the best choice I made for my health.
1. They make you get UP whether you like it or not
I am not an early riser. In fact if I had it my way I’d sleep till 10:00 everyday. But this just isn’t a possibility with a dog. Sure, there are moments that I’d like to be able to sleep-in later, but having a pup has forced me to get out of bed, get dressed and be a more productive human before I’d normally hit snooze (for the first time). Getting my day started earlier has meant finishing earlier and I’ve been able to shut off work by 5:00 PM. I also can easily spend all day in my PJs, but I promised I would never be one of those dog moms who takes their dog out in a sweatsuit. I now have a reason to look like a relatively fashionable human instead of a contestant on “What Not To Wear”.
2. They Get You Outside
Rain or shine, you’re out there! When I’m not travelling, I’m a total homebody. My friends know that if they want to see me, it has to be within a 4 block radius of my apartment. But with the dog, I’m forced to go outside even if I want to stay buried in the hole that is my apartment. One of the best and most simple things you can do for your health is to just step outside and breathe in the fresh air.
3. They Get You Moving
My dog(s) have completely transformed the way I’ve looked at exercise. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to hit the gym, get all my work done and walk the dog. This has meant changing the way I approach exercise and incorporate it into my life. Most of my cardio these days is either walking or occasionally jogging with the dog. I’ll hit the gym for a quick HIIT workout or weight-lifting session, but with even fewer hours left in the day to workout, adding cardio on top of this isn’t an option. If anything, having a dog has helped me move more in general and even more intuitively.
4. They Remind You What’s Important
It doesn’t matter how long my to-do list is, the dog has to be cared for. I’m someone who will try to pack in a million things and if I don’t have boundaries and limitations to ground me, I will aim for a level of productivity that is near impossible. Having a dog has taught me to say no to opportunities that aren’t my passion because I just don’t have the time. I would rather be out on a walk with my dog than working on a project I know I won’t enjoy.
5. They’re a great replacement for free-weights
I think I did the stairs 12 times yesterday with Bodhi (who weighs 16 lbs at 9 weeks – lord help me!) in my arms. I guarantee I have Mom arms by the end of puppy training.
6. They provide endless love and comfort
There are days when I feel stressed and overwhelmed and there’s truly nothing like a puppy cuddle or some doggy kisses to make it better. My stress levels are still pretty high, but they’ve definitely decreased since adding a pup!
7. They help you focus on something besides yourself
I can get a little too focused internally when I’m probably better off focusing on something besides how to fix EVERYTHING. Caring for another being forces you to get over your bad hair day or acne or whatever stressor du jour when a little creature is depending on you for their survival. Also he loves me even with zits on my face and an afro on my head so why wouldn’t I love myself?
8. They get you out exploring
True life, I totally forgot I lived on a lake. When you get a dog, you suddenly start to want to explore places in your own neighborhood and beyond. After you do the same walk 200 times you begin to want something new. Plus you also want the dog to have the ultimate adventure so you’re always looking for new places to explore. We’re so looking forward to Bodhi being old enough to go camping and on hikes!
Obviously, getting a dog is not the right choice for everyone, but for me it was exactly what I needed. I’m so much more productive (minus the current sleep-deprived state I’m in), active and have a renewed perspective on what’s truly important. Adding Rhett and then Bodhi was like getting a green juice, yoga session and avocado toast all wrapped into one…everyday.
If you find yourself needing an excuse to be active, are willing to have a flexible schedule and open to endless love, you may want to consider getting a puppy!
And for those of you wondering about Rhett, he’s doing great! As many of you know, we watched him for 9 months while his mama (my bestie) finished medical school. He’s now happily reunited with her and we see him several times a week. We’re also currently watching his feline brother, Obi Wan Kenobi before he moves to Edmonton next week.
In the meantime, we are loving getting to know Bodhi’s personality and while raising a puppy is no easy feat, we could not be more in love! And because we all know I really just wrote this post to bombard you with puppy pictures, here you go!
So tell me, are you a dog person? Do you feel like your dog or other pet has made you healthier?
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