I didn’t grow up with a dog, we had cats, but I’ve had Oliver for 3 and a half years now and I’ve learned so much from him in those few short years.
The decision to finally get a dog was a weird one too. I spotted a shiba puppy once in college and instantly fell in love, but since we never had dogs growing up, I was a little nervous about getting my own.
It’s a huge responsibility!
But the idea crept back in my head when I started working from home, just after our move to Chicago. I had recently been on a family trip and ran into a woman with a shiba and it sort of reignited my love for them. By the time the trip was over, I had made up my mind — I was getting a shiba!
Annnnnnd, because I’m impulsive, I’d found a reputable breeder and put a deposit down by the end of the week!
When he finally arrived, I was pretty clueless. I’d bought all the right toys, puppy food, a kennel with a cozy blanket, but other than that, I knew nothing about raising a dog.
Those first few months were definitely a learning process, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I often joke with Rob and say that Oliver has been ‘my best purchase ever’, and frankly, it’s the truth. He brings us companionship, joy and happiness every. Single. Day.
Who wouldn’t want that?!
But owning a dog isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. My life and lifestyle drastically changed when Oliver joined the family. I became far more responsible and caring, I didn’t stay out as late and I learned how to truly be patient — though I still have my slip ups here and there.
Three and a half years later, I feel like I’ve really got the dog thing down. I’ve learned even more since his days as a puppy and I’m so thankful for what he brings to our lives everyday. Here are a few lessons he’s taught me…
1. Give Yourself a Break
Oliver stops to sniff things constantly on walks. He also occasionally decides that it’s time for a break and either sits or lays down for a bit with no concern for where we are — it’s happened on busy Michigan Avenue countless times!
While it can be annoying at times, it’s a good reminder that sometimes you just need a break and it’s totally okay to take them.
2. Be Silly
Sometimes adult life can get so serious. Having a dog not only requires play time, but helps us remember how much fun playing is — no wonder kids are always so happy!
On a daily basis, Oliver reminds me to be silly and not take myself to serious, it keeps me feeling young!
3. Don’t Hold Grudges
Oliver is a gleaming example of this lesson. I can forget to feed him all morning or take him on a short walk and guess what? He quickly forgets and moves on to being the same loving pup he always is.
4. Stay Calm
If you’ve ever raised a puppy or lived with a dog, you’ve likely had moments where you want to kick, scream and pull your hair out. I remember feeling this way a lot when Oliver was little. In true shiba form, he would manage to get out of my sight and into mischief within minutes which resulted in things like ripped up toilet paper, chewed up chair legs and half-eaten shoes.
As much as I wanted to punch the wall, I reminded myself that I was the one who let the 6-month-old teething puppy run loose in my house and throwing a tantrum wouldn’t accomplish anything.
Oliver has taught me to stay calm and not sweat the small stuff. I have to admit — it’s nice to not worry about everything all the time.
5. Always Greet People When They Come In
Dogs are pros at this one. Whether we’re gone for a week or an hour, every time Rob or I walks through the door, Oliver races towards us, toy in hand, ears down and tail wagging. It is the absolute sweetest thing ever and makes us both incredibly happy to come home each day.
Imagine if you were greeted by someone with half of Oliver’s excitement when you walked through the door, wouldn’t it feel incredible!?
6. Smile More
I don’t think I have RBF (resting bitch face), but Oliver has taught me to smile more often that I used to. Why? He’s always smiling and his cheery smile makes me instantly do the same. Also, smiling (whether you force it or not) can have positive effects on your mood and stress levels!
7. Don’t Buy Really Expensive Shoes
I love shoes and when I graduated and got my first job I bought a pair of pretty expensive shoes and when I found them mangled in my bedroom with Oliver still gnawing on the leather, I burst out crying.
Since then, I refuse to buy super expensive shoes. That being said, I don’t buy cheap shoes, but just not crazily priced ones.
8. Sleep is Very Valuable
Sometimes I don’t value sleep enough. I stay up to late and wake up too early — even on the weekends! Oliver on the other hand, sleeps probably 12 hours a day, if not more! It’s a good reminder for me to go to bed early because a good night’s sleep is so good for us!
Who would have guessed that dogs could teach us so much about living life?
Do you have a dog or did you grow up with one? What lessons did you learn from your dog?