Before I took my leap of faith and adopted my dog, Mila, I surveyed everyone in my life to see what they thought. Did they think I could handle it? Did they think it was a good idea? Did they think I was ready for the responsibility? The overwhelming answer was yes. And everyone wanted a say in which dog I adopted. For a couple weeks, my friends and I scoured the internet for dogs in the area. We wound up on multiple sites, from Craigslist to big pet companies like PetSmart. I picked out a few pups I thought were cute and matched my personality—but ultimately decided to go meet the dogs in person at the local animal shelter.
There were at least 30 dogs, behind glass doors or in metal crates. But one stuck out to me: she was a golden lab mix, and she was sitting, starting patiently, while all of the dogs around her barked their heads off. I took her for the day to see how well we fit together and then went back to officially adopt her the next morning.
Mila and I started our adventure together almost three months ago. Even in that short time span, I’ve learned so much from her and felt considerably happier. I account this to the lifestyle changes I’ve made in consideration of my new family member, as well as the love that she gives me every day.
Lifestyle Changes and Puppy Love
Before Mila, I spent the majority of my time working, watching TV, and going out with my friends. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with living this kind of life, but I found that making a few changes proved super beneficial for me. After I adopted Mila, I spent the majority of my time working, walking, running, going to the dog park, journaling, and getting much needed rest. In summary, I became a lot healthier. I was exercising more, drinking less, saving money, and enjoying my companionship with my dog. These changes benefitted my overall health and wellbeing. Here’s how:
- Exercise is important to your physical and mental wellbeing: it helps you maintain a healthy weight, combat or manage serious illnesses, and improves your mood. So, all of these walks, runs, and hikes with Mila were incredibly beneficial.
- Too much alcohol can weaken your heart, cause inflammation, increase your risk for certain cancers, hurt your immune system, and lead to depression and/or anxiety. When I adopted Mila, I took on a great responsibility and knew I wouldn’t uphold that responsibility if I was out drinking or hungover. So, I reduced my alcohol intake significantly.
- Companionship ensures a happy, healthy life: my companionship with Mila improves my mood, helps to reduce stress, and increases my sense of purpose. I wasn’t sure how it would feel to be solely responsible for another, but I thrived. Mila gave me a new meaning.
Testimonies: Dogs Prove Their Worth
I’m not the only one who benefits from caring for man’s best friend. Chana Studley—Academy Award Winner, Author, and Trauma Counselor—and Jonathan Rose, Managing Director at Aurora Pets Ltd, explain how their dogs have helped them live their best lives:
“Dogs slow down our thinking. We are always feeling what we’re thinking. When I think about all the things I have to do, the mortgage, the kids, that annoying coworker, etc., automatically my body gets tense, stress hormones start to flood into my bloodstream, and I can’t sleep. The next day I’m tired and that sets off more stress. It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to serious physical and mental problems. What needs to happen is for my thinking to slow down. Walking the dog is a great way to reflect, slow down, and see this to be true.” –Chana Studley
“I always wanted a dog as a child, but the rest of my family were not dog people. Once I grew up and had time to dedicate to a furry member of the family, I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life. Dogs have an uncanny ability to make you happy—maybe it’s the unconditional love they give you, the fact they are always happy to see you, or the funniest things and habits they develop. They also make you want to get into the great outdoors to explore and that is always a good thing for not only the body but the mind too.” –Jonathan Rose
What do you say, are you convinced that dogs are man’s best friend for good reason? Are you ready to take that leap and adopt a dog of your own? If the answer is yes, you’re in store for a whole lot of love, happiness, and adventure.