I’m not sure what I expected from having a dog. I supposed I just thought of the basic perks of dog ownership: I’d pet her, I’d walk her, and it would be nice. But there are a few benefits of having a dog I never expected.
1. How proud I’d be.
I’m so proud of my dog when she follows a rule or instruction. Is it because I don’t have kids? I don’t know. The first time my dog Minnie used the bathroom outside, I was flush with pride. I thought, “Look at that! She learned something! She gets it. I have communicated with her!” I feel the same when she goes to her spot, then sits and waits for instruction. “I taught her that!” I think, and it makes me feel like a big shot. I am the Beastmaster!
2. How connected I’d feel.
Having a pet is a deeply personal experience. We share a home with them. We share a life with them. We feed them, and comfort them, and care for them when they’re sick. I understood this intellectually. Of course we bond with our awesome pets. But I never thought I’d feel such partnership. Honestly? Sometimes I want to text my dog to let her know I’ll be home a little later than I’d planned. I want to email her, or call her and ask about her day. Sometimes when I leave the house, I leave the television on for her. This is normal. But sometimes when I leave the TV on for her, I think, “Ooh, Sixteen Candles is on, one of my favorites. I bet she’d like that.” Is that normal?
3. How it would expand my community.
I’d assumed that when I got a dog, she’d fit into my life. I pictured my life the same, but with a pet. But for her to get everything she needs, I’ve had to open my life up to her. I now know all sorts of new people, veterinarians, dog park people and folks at doggie day care. I know people in my neighborhood who have dogs, we pass each other on walks. We stop on our walks, admire each others dogs. I actually talk to my neighbors and their dogs. A complete stranger was driving by, stopped his car and got out just to meet my dog. He told me how he’d always had bulldogs and loved them. Strangers become acquaintances and friends. Peripheral friends have become close friends because our dogs play together. Having a dog has deeply expanded and broadened my community experience.
I wanted to give my dog a good life. Turns out, she’s giving me one.