I’m a dog person for good reason
Written on October 6th, 2017
You don’t have to know me well to know that I’m pretty obsessed with my family’s pets, especially our Siberian Husky Snort. A few recent friends can even vouch for the fact that within ten minutes of meeting them I was already sharing pictures of her…
I know I might be a bit over the top — it’s not every day that you meet someone who has an Instagram for their canine — but I just can’t help it: I love dogs.
I can’t really recall where my passion started; ever since I was little I’ve been crazy about animals, and dogs have just always had the biggest spot in my heart. Some children had baby dolls, but I still have a massive collection of stuffed canines that I would carry around with me growing up — and I remember every single one of their names and personalities.
We got our first dog, Larry, when I was five, and his “sister” Lucy came around when I was seven. Those two white fluffballs changed my family’s world, and to this day some of my fondest childhood memories involve their antics — when we lost Larry last year, I was devastated.
I was bitten by a Border Collie when I was about six, and even the bloody hospital visit wasn’t enough to put a damper on my love for this species. In elementary school my best friend and I found every chance we could to raise money for our local humane society, and I went so far as to have a few of my birthday parties there.
I could go on, but you get the idea: dogs have been a massive part of my life for pretty much always. But why, exactly, do I love them so much?
There are too many reasons to properly explain — and some of them just can’t be put into words — but these are my biggest reflections on why canines have so much room in my heart.
1. Dogs are motivating
There is almost nothing more inspiring than a living, breathing creature who depends on you for his/her survival. Countless mornings this past summer I didn’t even want to think about getting out of bed two hours before work… but when I heard Snort howling for a walk, I knew I couldn’t let her down.
Snort pushes me to be more active and engaged. She needs me to be my best for her. My relationship with this dog has moved me to become a better human overall — when we let dogs into our lives, we let motivation in, too.
2. Dogs are forgiving
We can learn so much from dogs and the way they forgive. Even on my worst days, Snort and Lucy love me — they don’t hold me to my mistakes but instead always look at me like they’re seeing who I could be instead of who I am.
It is an amazing thing to be able to share your life with a creature who has no concept of how to hold a grudge. When we provide consistency and work with their personalities, dogs provide unconditional acceptance.
3. Dogs are individuals
Dogs are so unbelievably unique. Sure, there are breed traits that are generally accepted, but every dog is comprised of nature and nurture… and every dog is an individual. Take Snort, for example, who is supposed to love to pull given her husky ancestry but instead stops moving the second she feels any resistance.
It’s wonderful to have companions who are so similar and yet so diverse. You can fall in love with a breed or a particular training style and still be presented with exceptions to the rules. Life with dogs is never boring.
4. Dogs are challenging
It’s not easy to be a responsible pet owner. Although I grew up with two Bichons, I really didn’t understand everything that goes into caring for a pet until I got older.
It’s difficult to work with a dog, especially a stubborn one. Sometimes it feels impossible to be consistent. It’s tiring, and frustrating, and downright painful at times — but it’s so unbelievably worth it.
The challenges associated with dog ownership range; with Snort, I’ve been an integral part of her training and adjustment from day one. With Lucy, it’s been hard to watch her grow old and to think of losing her like we did her brother last year.
Whether mentally, physically, or emotionally, dogs challenge us in the best ways. They help us build our stamina — they help us grow.
5. Dogs breed empathy
Research has shown that kids who grow up with pets are more empathetic than those who don’t. Caring for someone other than yourself is extremely valuable — especially when that someone can’t speak your language. It forces you to pay closer attention to nonverbal communication and to learn how to sense what those around you need.
My first childhood dog definitely taught me about love, and even though I was 19 when we got Snort I realized that I still had so much to learn.
There is something about being around creatures like dogs — pure, with roughly the mental capacity of toddlers — that makes you feel more kind and patient.
6. Dogs inspire education
I’ve loved dogs for a long time — but I won’t pretend that I have always been an expert on them. I’ve gone through many phases in my life where I didn’t fully understand a training style or particular genetic factor.
When we got Snort and I became so committed to training her well and keeping her life balanced, I learned about huskies and dogs as a whole. I was accepted into an amazing community of canine lovers, both casual pet owners and dedicated trainers.
Not only have I learned about animals and science in this process, but I’ve also gained insight about people. I’ve participated in discussions, I’ve met folks who I never before would have talked to, I’ve grown as a human being.
When we care about our dogs enough to learn everything we can, we find that we gain much more than an understanding of training styles or rescue/breeder debates. We gain the capacity for critical evaluation, for free thought, and for open mindedness.
7. Dogs know, more than anything else, how to love
At the end of the day, all the biology and training aside, this is my favorite thing about dogs: they love you.
Dogs love like no creature I’ve ever met (except maybe cats, but that’s a different article for a different day). Dogs don’t judge you based on trivial factors. They don’t care if you’re “cool” or weird or obnoxious — they just care if you love them back.
Of course there are some dogs whose nature or nurture pushes them past the point of loving humans, but even abused canines are frequently happy to be rescued and in the presence of people. After all, they’ve been bred as companions — and no one is going to love you better than your dog will.
When the world is chaotic and social media is exhausting and insecurities run rampant, nothing calms your soul quite like the unconditional love from your furry pal.