I LOVE LOVE animals and had my share of pets growing up. There was my red-eared slider Yoshi and a guinea pig I won at a birthday party when I was five. I also brought many hurt animals home, in the hope of rescuing them. My dream though was to have a dog but as I lived in apartments for most of my life with a mother who was and still is a clean freak with a fear of dogs to top it off, it was just never in the cards.
Pets were something to be enjoyed in other people’s homes, where the mess, hair, and responsibilities were left behind as soon as you walked out the door. That’s how I was raised. In a way I understand my parents position on pets, as they did both work very hard to provide a quality life for my sister and I; yet I was always torn as seeing pets, especially dogs and cats as a nuisance when in their presence all I felt was love and a giddy sense of happiness.
Now as an adult in charge of my own home, it’s been over five years since I became a dog owner for the first time and I have never looked back. Since rescuing my first dog, a poodle and terrier mix, I have added a total of four dogs to the mix. One of them, a street dog my husband and I found roaming near our garage a few years ago and took into our home gave us so much love before tragically being killed by a car when he ran out unto the street last year.
Last week my husband and I adopted our newest dog, a seven year old wire haired terrier named Chloe. It’s been such a joy to have a girl dog in the house as all my previous dogs have been male. I call her my little angel and although she is very shy, she is also extremely curious and has been slowly warming up to her rough and tumble brothers.
When I tell people how many dogs I have, I tend to get a look of incredulity. Three dogs is not for everyone, and although my dogs are all what you would call ‘lap’ dogs they still require a fair amount of attention and upkeep. There are daily walks, feedings, vet visits, weekly baths, grooming sessions and lately I’ve added teeth brushing to the mix since small dogs tend to have a propensity for gum disease. That’s a whole lot of additional things to do year round regardless of how bad the weather is outside, or how tired I am from putting in 60 hours of work that week.
While I have moments where I question my decision making when it came to growing my family with furry little critters (like when cleaning vomit out of the carpet at 3am); the reality is that having made the commitment to take care of dogs has only enhanced my life.
I am forced to be more organized, to think beyond my own needs and desires because let’s face it, who really wants to walk around in subzero temperatures waiting for a dog to go to the bathroom. When I travel with my pets, I have to look into pet-friendly hotel options and make sure to tote all their gear so that they can be as happy on the road as they would be at home, lounging next to me on the couch.
I’ll stop short of comparing my situation to having kids, because you can’t put children in a crate when you go to work, yet knowing I have something beyond my immediate self to look after has had such a positive impact on my life. You have to work a bit harder to find balance amidst the chaos of wagging tails but what is life if not a constant attempt at taming our surroundings to make them that much more suitable for us.
More than anything else, my dogs give me a peace and joy that is hard to describe. I truly feel their unconditional love each and every day, even from my little Chloe who is still getting to know us. Knowing I get to come home to their smiling faces every single day makes it much easier to deal with all the fun things that come with being an adult. Their bright, furry faces perk me up even when I’m dead tired and just want to crawl straight into bed. What they bring to my life, especially my mental health, cannot be overstated. I’m a better human being with them in my life, which in turn makes it easier to go out into the world every day and try to live an authentic life, knowing I get to come home to pure and utter happiness.