From a young age, I have always loved dogs. They were the perfect creatures in my mind. They are loving, loyal, cuddly, and just so darn cute. However, my family was not big on pets when I was a child. There was an unspoken rule that we were not allowed to have furry pets in my house. So, throughout my childhood, I had a slew of animals that had to be kept in cages, like frogs and fish, but not what I truly wanted: a dog.
I was probably quite annoying when I was a kid, as I am sure I asked my parents for a dog at least once a month, to no avail. After my mom and dad divorced I was hoping I could convince my mom to give in and give me what I wanted, but she wouldn’t bite.
Looking back, it was a good thing we never adopted a dog.
Between my two sisters and I, we were rarely home because of all the after school activities we were engaged in, so we really didn’t have time for a dog. However, in the moment, I was crushed.
To help me deal with my incredible desire for a dog, once I was old enough, I began a pet-sitting service. I offered a variety of options, such as one where I could stay in their home with the dog while they were away or one where I would just stop in a few times a day to feed and let the dog out. I immediately got job offers from two families I babysat for and my best friend’s family. Three weeks out of the summer I pet-sat their dogs while they went on vacations.
I loved it, which surprised my family. My mom and dad thought that once I saw the amount of effort that went into caring for a dog, I would give up on my love for them. Unfortunately for them, the opposite happened.
Yes, pet sitting taught me that dogs need a lot of care and attention. However, I didn’t mind because it gave me a chance to care for dogs. I truly have a deep love of these animals that even when they woke me up at 3 am for bathroom breaks, I never got upset or mad. I was just happy to be there and have the chance to, at least for a little bit, finally see what it was like to have a dog in my life.
I went into college never owning a dog of my own, and I had come to terms with that.
I went into college never owning a dog of my own, and I had come to terms with that. I knew that once I was old enough and on my own I would be able to. Little did I know, that opportunity would arrive much sooner than I had anticipated.
My girlfriend has struggled with anxiety and depression for a large portion of her life. College just continued to exacerbate those issues, so she decided to look into obtaining an emotional support animal, or ESA. I was, of course, ecstatic. I knew she wouldn’t want a mouse or something similarly small, as she wanted something that needed more constant care. Cats were off the table as she is highly allergic.
There really was only one option left: adopting a dog.
She immediately began looking for places to buy a dog (not at pet stores), as she wanted a puppy that could eventually become a fully trained as a service dog. However, as we were still living in a college dorm room at the time, she was told that the school had specific rules that needed to be fulfilled, (the dog needed to be potty trained already).
With this in mind, she quickly changed gears and began looking at adoptable dogs. After a few hits and misses with adoptable dogs, she finally was approved to adopt an (estimated) three year old corgihuahua named Jon Jon. On the day we went to meet him, we were so excited. As his foster family walked him into the room, he was exceptionally nervous–and showed it–by peeing in the corner.
He kept his distance for a minute but then curiosity got the best of him and he wandered over towards us. The minute my girlfriend petted him, I knew he was the dog for us. There was just this look on her face of pure, unadulterated happiness. Within five minutes of seeing him she started signing the adoption papers, and that was that.
Jon Jon was abused as a puppy.
He was rescued from what we assume was a puppy mill or something of the sort, but we really don’t know all the details. His tail was broken at some point, as it is bent towards the base. He is very sensitive about touch, especially near his butt, and with strangers beyond my girlfriend and I. We always have to warn people who ask to pet him that he may try and snap at them. He does not like having a collar on, and especially hates when it is taken off or put on. He eats his food very quickly as if he thinks we are going to take it away.
When we moved into our new apartment off campus, he was very anxious and stood sentry by the door because he thought we would leave without him. To some people, this would seem like a lot of baggage to deal with. However, we love it. We love knowing that we are giving a animal who has only known pain and sadness a life full of happiness and relaxation. Sometimes he is still very jumpy around us, but we have only had him for a little over three months. He has grown considerably more comfortable with us as time has passed, and will only continue to do so.
Having a dog has helped me a lot.
It helps me keep a regular schedule. I have to be up in the morning to let him out and feed him, so I need to go to bed at a regular time to make sure I am awake enough to do this. I can’t sit in bed all day long because he needs regular walks. Having an animal to pet and cuddle is very relaxing and brings me and my girlfriend a sense of calm when we are anxious or depressed.
Yes, having a dog, let alone adopting a dog is a big responsibility. Having rescued a dog who was abused is an even bigger one, but in my opinion, it is absolutely worth it. Adopting a dog has changed my life for the better in an endless multitude of ways, and will continue to do so for years to come.
Obviously, not everyone in the world is a dog person like I am. However, if you are, I would encourage you to consider adopting a dog rather than purchasing them, even if they are purchased through a reputable organization. Adopting a dog is a wonderful gift both to you and the animal. You provide them unconditional love, and they provide it in return. Adopting a dog is the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I believe everyone should have the chance to experience it.
Also published on Medium.