23 Life Lessons You Get From Being A Dog Owner

1. First and foremost, you’re never really a dog owner. Your dog owns you as much as you do them, and the kind of feelings we usually associate with ownership — purchase, control, demands — just don’t exist at all between you.

2. In many ways, the two of you adopt each other when you first meet. The circumstances vary widely, but there is usually that moment when the two of you see each other for the first time and know that it’s going to be something special.

3. The first few months of having a new puppy are some of the most wonderfully infatuating months in the world. It’s nothing short of magical, watching them explore everything for the first time, run around in circles until they can’t keep their eyes open anymore, and ask you to play every minute you’re in the same room.

4. Watching how happily and curiously puppies approach everything — even things that should intimidate them — reminds you of all the things you should be trying more in your own life. It makes you ask yourself why you’re so scared of adventure, and so judgmental of things on first glance.

5. Even though you know you’re not supposed to sneak them bits of food, or let them fall asleep with you, or come up on the furniture, it’s so hard to say no to them.

6. The feeling of a dog sleeping next to you, especially when the dog knows you are sad and has come to comfort you, is one of the best medicines you can take. It reminds you that even a little ball of pure energy is capable of calming down and being tender when you need it, and you wonder why you can’t be that compassionate with the people around you.

7. There is nothing that will make you more angry than seeing a dog owner who is mistreating their dog, because you know just how limitless the dog’s capacity is to love, even towards people who don’t deserve it.

8. You often ask yourself if you’re a good enough owner to deserve the kind of love your dog gives you — you’re sure you could be better, and your dog makes you want to be that better person.

9. No hiding place is safe, no counter is high enough, no package hard enough to chew through for some good food. Especially if it’s bacon.

10. Rescue dogs are some of the most precious companions you can ever have, and if you take the time to teach them that not all humans are bad and not everyone is going to hurt them, their love will be unmatched.

11. There are no truly bad dogs, only truly bad owners.

12. No matter how many breeds we try to demonize as a whole, it will never solve the real problem, which is having a competent and compassionate owner for every dog.

13. There is a reason why people react so harshly to crimes like dog fighting or animal negligence, and it is because we know that, no matter how badly that dog was mistreated, he still came back the next day with his tail wagging, hoping that he would be finally be loved by his master.

14. The capacity to learn elaborate tricks or even be a service dog is something that lies in almost all our puppy friends, because their desire to imitate and please humans knows no limits.

15. Eventually, you and your dog will end up becoming the same person, and you’ll be totally okay with that.

16. The feeling of having a little creature who runs up, freaking out, to the front door every time they hear your key turn in the lock is something that can make a terrible day turn around completely.

17. Eventually, you’ll get just as excited to see them as they are to see you.

18. Some people will always hate dogs, and it’s not even worth trying to convince them, because anyone who could look at the incredibly special relationship dogs have with humans and feel hatred is just never going to get it.

19. A tennis ball can be played with and loved until it is literally just three fluorescent green threads hanging onto a chewed-up piece of rubber, and it will still be the best toy in the whole box.

20. Seeing a puppy cuddle with their favorite stuffed animal is a level of adorable that is technically incomprehensible to human brains.

21. The ending of Marley & Me can destroy a whole week.

22. Having to put down your best friend is an inexplicable pain, and all you want is to know that they know they were a good dog.

23. Every time you forgot to play with them when you said you would, every time you yelled at them when you were in a bad mood and they did nothing wrong, every time you pushed them away when they wanted to cuddle, are going to sting you like a thousand needles when it’s too late. Because you’ll realize that dogs are the most pure, kind sources of love we have, and we never realize how lucky we are to have them in the moment — our hearts probably just couldn’t take all of that love at once. TC mark

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image – Ralph and Jenny

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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