I’ve always been a huge animal lover. My parents had two dogs before they had my brother and I, so naturally I’ve grown up rolling on the floor with them and cleaning up their poop. Dogs have a great way to teach us lessons and lately I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve spent about a third of my last five months in an animal shelter and it’s crazy the things you can learn from animals, but I’m grateful I did.
1. Everyone has their own story.
Every animal that walks through the doors has their own story, just like every person in life. Maybe their family was moving, or their owner died, or they were part of a cruelty case. They might have even been picked up as a stray. You never truly know, so you always have to open your heart and give them your love to make them feel like everything will be all right.
2. You always deserve a second chance.
Or a third, or a fourth. Sometimes you just might not be a good fit for the people you’re around, so you need to step back and readjust your life. Once you’re around people who truly care about you, everything gets better from there.
3. Love comes in all sizes.
Large or small, it doesn’t matter because they all love you and you love them right back. Dogs don’t worry about if you’ll like the dog the next kennel over more because that dog is bigger or fluffier; they just want all the love you’re capable of giving them, that’s what makes them happy.
4. You don’t need much to be happy.
Dogs prove that they don’t need much to be happy. As long as they have their basic necessities they are content. They don’t worry about accumulating the most toys or having the biggest bone. They just enjoy what they have while they have it. Dogs are the best examples of minimalists.
5. It’s always good to get outside and play.
Being outside is usually a dog’s favorite part of the day. Going for walks and running around in the grass isn’t just good for dogs, it’s good for us too. Nature is good for the soul.
6. Perfection isn’t required.
Some have four legs, some have three. Some have two eyes, some have one. Some have fur missing, some are covered. But it doesn’t matter because someone loves them all for them. They will all find their comfort in life and a place to call home. It might take some longer than others, but eventually they find their place in the world and people who love them.
7. You’ll fall in love again.
Your heart will break, it’s inescapable. One animal will walk through the door and you’ll love them from the second you see them. You spend time with them and maybe give them an extra bone. Pet them extra long and spend extra time trying to take perfect pictures of them. But they will leave and some day another one will come in and you’ll fall in love again.
8. Love is letting go.
When you see people coming in and they ask to see the dog you love you instantly start judging them. Almost like when you find out an ex is dating someone new. You wonder how good they will really be and if they’re capable of giving them the best life possible. When those people ask to fill out the adoption papers you start to realize you need to let go. It’s sad when you see the dog walk out the door, but you have to be happy at the same time. Love is letting go. You just have to accept that you did all you could, but you couldn’t give the dog everything it needed, which was a place to call home. You just have to hope that the dog has the best life it can.
9. Love can heal.
We have dogs that come in in extremely awful shape. It’s so hard to see and so disheartening that there are people out there that can harm animals the way they do. But it’s inconceivable how much love can change their lives, even save their lives. The dog that was so skinny he looked like he was going to collapse any second is soon playing with his friends, thickening up and wagging his tail. Sometimes all people or animals need is love and it can change their life to be around people who actually truly care about them and their well-being.
10. Needs are different.
No two dogs are the same, just like no two people are. Some dogs need lots of love and affection, being in a shelter is a stressful thing for animals. Sometimes you have to get in the kennel and spend some time with them before they’ll get up and go outside, almost as if they’re depressed and anxious in there. Other dogs don’t need very much affection, they are happy on their own. You have to be more conscientious of the different needs of the different animals and help make them the most comfortable they can possibly be while they’re with you.