When my husband and I first thought about getting a dog, we started to make a checklist of what we needed to buy before we brought our new furry family member home. We looked at websites that had checklists of everything you needed to buy – a crate, food and water bowls, poop bags, 6 foot long leash, some chew toys, and a few other items.
After reading article after article about how to acclimate and train your dog, we were READY. Those videos on how to make your dog come when called? Watched and DONE. I mean, the girl in the video made it so easy. Just go to a beautiful park where the weather is perfect, calmly say “Come”, and the beautiful Golden Retriever immediately runs over to her like it’s the only mission it needs to accomplish.
Neither of us had dogs, so obviously we had no idea what was coming.
Fast forward 4 years later. Boy, were we so wrong about a lot of things, but others were easier than we thought. As I reflect on how fast (and slow at the same time) it has gone by, I thought I’d make of list of things our little furry Boston Terrier has taught us. Things that go beyond just how to take care of a dog. Life lessons that I will always carry.
1. Do not buy a monogrammed Pottery Barn dog bed. Just don’t. I’m sure one day I was reading a magazine, and there were photos of adorable puppies laying on their burgundy and navy beds with the words “Buddy” sewn in beautiful letters on the front. I had to have one. $75.00 later, our dog managed to chew up the mattress INSIDE the zipped cover. Now we just have the cover, folded up in some closet, never to be seen again.
The infamous beds. Does that dog get 6 plates of food if he sits pretty?
2. Make sure your iCloud storage is activated for the 1,546,890 photos you’ll take of your dog. Because he looks sooooo cute cuddling in his blanket. Wait, let me get one from the left side. Up close. Black and white filter. Instragram that.
3. You want what you can’t have. My dog’s favorite game to play is chase me with the ball in my mouth. Then if you lose interest and walk away, he drops it on the floor and leaves. Because it’s only fun if someone wants your ball.
4. Forget buying a vacuum. You have a free one already! Dropped that cheese on the floor? Buddy to the rescue! Spill a bunch of yogurt? They’re ready to lap it up! The best part? Once you’re done cooking, they’ll go over every inch of your kitchen and make it shine with their drool.
5. No matter how big your bed is, you’ll only have 5% of it to yourself. See diagram below.
6. Everyone needs a best friend. My dog does not like to walk outside unless it’s perfect pleasantville town weather. But when he sees his BFF Millie, a black lab/golden doodle mix, he will just about go anywhere. Find someone who will make you go that extra block, mile, town, or whatever it is that pushes you just a bit further.
7. Be kind. If we were kinder to humans, dogs, and just to our society in general, our world would be a much better place. Working with a few dog rescues, it’s clear that if people were nicer to dogs, there would be a lot less of them in shelters.
8. Celebrate every small (and big) accomplishment. Had a good day? Have some chocolate (you, not the dog). Greeted someone without jumping on them? Celebrate with a bone. Begged at the table for only 10 minutes instead of 30? You deserve a piece of bacon.
9. Stop buying toys. You know how you buy your child a really cool playset, but all they want to play with is the box? Same thing applies to my dog. I head to the pet store, find an adorable $15 stuffed toy that looks like an aligator that claimes to be indestructable, bring it home, my dog excitedly plays with it for 30 seconds, and then moves on to an old beat up tennis ball. Everyday he goes into his toy box, dumps all the toys, and finds it. I never learn this lesson. Just buy the dang $5 can of tennis balls on Amazon. Oh, look! A pig toy wearing a cute apron and hat! I’ll take it.
10. (Last but not least) As long as you’re together, life is A-ok. As long as our dog is with us, he’ll glady fly on a plane across the country, be a passenger on roadtrips, or hang while we grab a quick meal. For me, as long we are together, we can go on any adventure.