No matter what anyone tells you, you’re never ready for your first dog. I thought it would be a breeze. After all, I lived with a dog as a child. When my dog came into my life, I was single and living on my own.
I knew I had a big responsibility in supporting another life. Shortly after getting my pup, I fell in love—his soulful eyes, playful spirit, beautiful shiny coat, fat paws, and his silky ears that nearly touched the ground. But I really didn’t know anything about what kind of care and training he truly required. My dog, Scout, has changed how I approach and think about life—here are a few lessons he taught me.
The importance of being prepared
Many people who grew up with dogs tend to think that getting a dog as an adult will be a breeze. Just like how there’s nothing that can prepare you for raising children, the same principle applies to raising a puppy. Simply understanding that things can, and will, go wrong will help you prepare for the surprises that come with getting a dog.
Many factors of a dog’s personalities and needs are influenced by their breeds. Unfortunately, I didn’t read about Scout’s breed until after I adopted him. It turns out that Coonhounds are exceptionally independent, prone to running away, stubborn, and difficult to potty train. He was no different—he followed his nose deep into the wilderness and would come back on his own time, whether that was in twenty minutes or two days. He never understood why I was so upset when he returned. In his mind, I had nothing to worry about. Scout’s need for adventure and independence caused me deep worry and anxiety about his safety and well-being. Dogs have unique challenges and personalities. Until we bring them home, we don’t truly know what they’ll want or need from us.
While my dog struggled with the need for adventure, each dog faces its own struggle—separation anxiety, isolation terror, boredom issues, medical issues, physical disabilities, aggressive tendencies. We don’t always know what challenges we may face with the dog we bring home. Cassie Jasso and her boyfriend struggled to overcome the many challenges of being a first-time dog parent, as did Melody Monroe, both questioning at times whether the challenges, time commitments, and expenses associated with adopting a dog were worth the decision. In the end, they believe in the commitment they made and emphasize the importance of advanced knowledge and preparation.
How to spend money wisely
Every dog lover knows the cliché phrase—This is why we can’t have nice things. Many dog owners even choose furniture based on whether or not their pet’s fur will clash with the fabric. These are things I’ve had to think about after getting a dog. I’ve questioned how durable furniture is, if the cushion covers can be taken off, and if it’s easy to vacuum. I learned not to place too much value in or spend too much money on things like shoes, socks, or underwear since many got chewed up.
Additionally, MyPetNeedsThat claims that dogs like to play outside in all kinds of weather and happily drag all manner of natural earth matter into our homes. Keeping nature at bay indoors is difficult enough without a dog. Every dog owner has to consider how to best protect their home, especially with the additional stress of a dog. Dogs teach you to think carefully about your purchases. You never know what could happen if it ends up in your dog’s possession. If you must have it, make sure to protect it and keep your dog from having access to it. When making a big purchase, I still ask myself how I’d feel if it was ruined. I learned to carefully consider whether or not things are worth the money paid.
Take Risks, Travel, and Adventure
There were many adventures that Scout took without me. He was known for escaping fenced yards, dog parks, leashes, chains, crates, and cars. It was hard to handle his wandering on my own. In his mind, it was just something that he needed to do. He had no concept of time—only that he needed to explore. There were times when Scout was gone for days and I wasn’t certain he would come back. I often wondered what he saw, who he met, and what he encountered on those adventures. Many times, he came back covered in mud with the biggest grin on his face. If he could have told me a million stories about his adventures, he would have.
While he caused a lot of worry in my life, he taught me that risky adventures sometimes bring us the most joy. He taught me the importance of challenging myself and getting out of my own comfort zone. Since he’s been gone, I’ve tried to travel often and keep an adventurous mindset. Going on new adventures and taking risks may lead to struggles, but it also brings the reward of learning about yourself and all that you’re capable of. Adventure is a necessary part of life in order to grow as a person.
It’s easy to see why dogs earned the title “man’s best friend.” They do so many great things for our health and wellbeing. I guess it’s time to find your best friend and give them a treat?
Written by Amanda Turner @ The Freelancer Buzz