4 Ways Adopting a Dog Changed My Life

Thinking about adopting a dog? Here are some ways it will change your life for the better.

by - Posted on May 19, 2017

Woman lifts her newly adopted puppy in the air.

Almost exactly seven years ago I was living a pretty average Big City life, when—in a single month—I was blindsided with a job loss, cat loss and relationship loss. With no stability anchoring my life, I quickly felt adrift and lost in the sea of my life.

So I did what anyone else in my position would do: headed out to Central America alone, on a six week learn-to-surf adventure. Hang on—this wasn’t as crazy as it sounds!

I knew the cost of living there would be significantly lower than the big-city life I had been living in the U.S. so I’d spend less money while I was gone. I was able to sublet my apartment to a trusted friend of a friend, pulled together a bit of savings and decided to use my small severance to get me out of my rut.

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The goal was to spend the first week at a surf camp, followed by five weeks bumming around surf towns on the cheap. I’d then head home to find a new job… but not a new cat, and not quite yet another partner.

Well, you know how it goes: "Humans plan. God laughs."

I didn’t return home at the end of those six weeks, and a few months later fell in love –with a magnificent Mexican town, where I decided to live for the next few years.

Life was great! I was in a gorgeous place with amazing new friends and a burgeoning freelance copywriting career. So…. why did I feel like something was missing? Without family nearby or an office job to socialize at, my life had become incredibly self-focused. I had a lot of free time and was spending it contemplating myself a bit too much.

I tried to think of ways I could get outside my own head and wondered: how could I be of service? The answer appeared in the form of a little gray street dog named Max.

I was not a dog person. I had commitment issues. I wasn’t in a particularly stable phase of my life. And yet here he was: a scraggly poodle mix, found injured and severely malnourished in a doorway. Rescued, fostered and… now available for adoption.

I’ve learned a lot in these past few years from that little rescue—lessons which have changed my life for the better. Here are four life lessons I learned by adopting Max:

1) Open your heart

At the time I was a single woman in my late 30’s, with battle scars from relationships past. Enter, Max. This dog bonded to me immediately (far quicker then I to him) and seemed to love me from Day 1. We walked for miles each day through town and countryside, and every time he looked up at me I could feel my walls crumble a little more. He needed love and I had it; I needed love and he had it. We were a match made in heaven.

2) Look out for your well-being

Freelancing suits me, but sitting in front of a computer all day, every day, does not. The solution: this living being who needs a lot of walks, some playtime and a few adventures tossed in, too.

Max gets me out of the house every day all year long, and we both benefit from the fresh air and new experiences that come our way. When he comes into my office and quietly looks up at me, I know it’s time for us both to stretch our bodies and reset our minds in the world outside.

3) Live in the present moment

Meditation, mindfulness, present moment: I know, I know, I know. I’ve sat through a number of 10-day silent meditation retreats, learned from amazing teachers and really, truly and deeply understand the life-changing nature of being in the present moment. Still, more often than not I find myself lost in thoughts of the past or future, or swirling in the unknown.

While walking Max one day I wondered: can I combine meditation with our daily walks? Taking him out every day makes me slow down and really notice the seasons, weather, and my neighborhood in a way I wouldn’t otherwise.

He inspired me to incorporate mindfulness practices into our walks – breathing consciously, placing my feet with intention and noticing sensations from the leash and the world around us. I was inspired to create an audio recording to listen to during dog walks – so we can all find a bit more peace and calm while taking care of our pups. And that’s how Mutt Meditation was born!

4) Love unconditionally

Literally all I have to do is walk through my front door – even if I just left three minutes earlier – and I’m lavished with insane levels of adoration. I’m deeply loved, warts and all, and totally accepted just as I am.

I can even leave him with strangers while I go off gallivanting and as soon as we’re reunited, he’s glued to me once again. And it’s not just me: this dog loves everyone unconditionally. It’s a beautiful lesson in acceptance and seeing the best in everyone we meet.

Sure, there are tradeoffs: Holy moly, do you have any idea what veterinarians charge?! But I’d have it no other way. As that very wise bumper sticker asks: "Who Rescued Whom?"

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Tags: Adoption,Pets
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