Growing up in Australia, I’ve always been a dog lover and have raised dogs throughout my life. But not everyone is keen on getting a dog as a pet or is convinced of the joys that raising a dog can bring. I thought it would be fun to collect responses from dog owners who can comment on this topic, and put out the following request:
We’re putting together a piece about why raising a dog is a wonderful experience and improves your life. For dog owners, how has raising a dog added joy to your life? What would you say to non dog owners who are on the fence about getting a dog? All comments welcome.
I’ll continue to add to this page as new responses come in. It’s my hope that we can persuade at least a small handful of people to get a dog after reading the responses here. 🙂
*-How has raising a dog added joy to your life?* Raising dogs in our family has brought an immense amount of joy and love into our family. It also brought about a sense of responsibility to care, love on, and connect with another living being. It is so incredibly rewarding, warming, and entertaining!
*-What would you say to non-dog owners who are on the fence about getting a dog? * If you are on the fence with getting a dog, I highly recommend leasing one. Yes, leasing one! Borrow or sit a neighbor's or friend's dog or foster a dog from a local dog fostering community. That is likely the best reference for what dog ownership is all about!
--Dr. Jessica Kirk, DVM, VetExplainsPets.com
I rescued my first dog at 40 year old. We've had her for six years and currently in our second round of chemo with her. My life is forever grateful and changed because of my beautiful Maggie dMy dog Khloe is a rescue. She was half-feral, gave birth to two puppies, hit by a car (we think) before being rescued by a local shelter. She was delighted to come home with us for a week as a foster, not so delighted when we had to bring her to the shelter specified vet in order to get her hip fixed but then again delighted to come home again. We’ve had her about three years now, and she is still delighted to be here, getting food and treats, and love, but the greatest joy she brings me is when she comes up on the bed and settles down to sleep, then lets out this hugely contented sigh. It lets me know she is okay. That even though her pups are not around, she is still happy, she feels safe, contented, and loved.og.
--Ali Rizvi, Dream Superhero
I'm a dog owner, lover and I also run a non profit called the Doggie Food Bank in Los Angeles that feeds dogs of the homeless. I can't imagine life without a dog!
I got my latest dog, Brie, during a low point in my life. I went to a weekend adoption event and all of the dogs were running around playing except one dog I spotted in the corner all alone. I asked to see her, and she looked so defeated, like she had been through that dog and pony show before. While all the other dogs had that pick me! attitude, she could care less. But I saw something in her and I'm so glad I gave it a chance.
She had been a street dog and had some very bad habits. But after a few weeks of training, I realized she was super smart and now knows many unique tricks. She settled down and is now the best dog you could ask for. I found out later that she had been on death row before someone got her out.
She has brought so much joy to my life and I can't imagine life without her.. In this time of social isolation she is a ray of sunshine.
For anyone on the fence about getting a dog, I would say do it! If you have the heart to raise a dog, if you have the time and money to invest, if you are able to put them first like you would a child, then it's life changing. Dogs are non judgmental and are there for you through thick and thin.
I know people who have just gotten their first dog as an adult and say they do't know what took them so long. They can't imagine life without a dog, and neither could I.
--Julie Austin, creativeinnovationgroup.com
My dogs make me a better human!: The loyalty and love from dogs is simply unwavering. My wife and I's pup KoKo will greet us at the door every single time we come home and pouts whenever we have to leave. She will relentlessly insist on cuddling even when it seems physically impossible to create any more space for her to join. Nothing makes her happier than going on car rides while she shamelessly pokes her head out the window - rain or shine. She makes every trip adventurous. The amount of attention she receives from passerby's is also a little envious. Just recently a mailman threw her a treat while we were stuck in traffic!
Dogs are so good to us even when we're in the worst of moods. Say we're feeling down or maybe a bit lazy, KoKo still won't hesitate to let us know when it's 4:30pm and time to eat dinner. She'll literally remind us with her paws that it's time to get off the couch and tend to our daily duties. Maturity and sacrifice come naturally with owning a dog and the benefits of that need no explanation.
We gladly accept the responsibility of providing KoKo and our other pup Cali a fulfilling life as so many dogs have done for us in the past. You never quite understand how much a dog enriches your life until the day they are no longer with you.
To those on the fence of owning a dog, they will teach you more than you would have ever imagined. With the exception of KoKo's stubbornness and Cali's fear of tile floors, they each possess many qualities that I am still aiming to develop within myself. You need a dog for your own good!
--Michael Kruse, Instagram: @MichaelBlakeKruse
As a family with two young children the discussion about owning a dog had been gathering momentum for over a year. The type, the costs, how we would look after a dog given both myself and my wife work...we talked the subject to death. Eventually though my wife and I cracked and six months ago and we embraced our first puppy - Elsa, a Rhodesian Ridgeback into the family.
I'd have to say those early puppy days were a little bit like suddenly having a baby! To make matters worse I think the rest of my family seemed to think every dog behaves like Lassie...imagine their disappointment when all Elsa seemed to do was bite them, jump up, steal food and poop on the floor. It was apparent I was not only training a dog, but I was training the rest of the family about the dog. In those early days though Elsa would bound around the house with enthusiasm and greet everyone with a waggy tail, and it is hard not to love those moments. She also found the sofa and made a point of snuggling up to anyone (children included) who was sat on it.
I work in an office alone and the agreement was Elsa would be with me three days a week. The first two weeks were interesting...Elsa chewed a variety of things including the corporate stationary and the telephone line, but thereafter she fell into the office routine and is good company to have around. In fact Elsa even has her own LinkedIn profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/elsa-r-88916b194/). Why I created that I have no idea, but it makes me chuckle.
Six months in I would say having Elsa is an incredibly rewarding experience.. The whole family loves her. She is amazing with the children (my youngest is 4) and I must be fitter following all the exercise she needs! She still steals food, she still jumps up and lets just say training is an ongoing project! I still laugh when people comment on what a 'well behaved dog' she is....oh if only they knew! The upsides completely outweighs any negatives and I think week-by-week her understanding and that of mine and the family improves.
Raising a dog is a long term project, not something you do over a weekend. You need patience and persistence, and I admit my family and I underestimated how involved the process was. If anything though, do your research and don't be scared to tap into the knowledge of the professionals and other dog owners.
--Simon Royston, The Recruitment Lab
My dogs have been a part of my family for 10 years now. I grew up with them and that was the first time I had someone to take care of. I was quite young when we got them and I remember taking them everywhere I went. I was constantly happy, my friends loved them and I always felt protected. Moreover, no matter what bad things were happening to me, I always received unconditional love and this feeling kept me through some really hard times.
I would always advise people to get a dog because of all the joys they can have together. Now, taking care of an animal is a serious job and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Animals are not toys and people should be ready to fully commit to adjusting their lifestyles so that dogs get the care and attention they need. However, this process is incredibly rewarding and also very entertaining.
--Boriana Slabakova, Petpedia.co
The joy of walking my dog and having random people approach me on the street to pet her has added so much joy to my life. Never before have people just walked up to me and started innocent conversation. Owning a dog has also added a new group of friends to my life. I’ve met so many wonderful people while taking my dog to the dog park.
Dog owners are for the most part genuinely friendly and caring people. Having people approach you on the street to ask to pet your dog doesn’t seem like a big deal, but seeing the joy on someone’s face when they get to pet your dog is a wonderful experience. The social aspect of dog-owning cannot be overlooked, especially in terms of mental health improvement.
--Leia Kalani, Tropical Topics
Anyone who has a dog, knows this and feels the unconditional love when your dog looks at you. There is something spiritual about the communication between you and your beloved dog.
*Someone to come home to *
You are never alone if you have a dog. They wait patiently for you, and greet you happily when you arrive home. You have someone to eat dinner with, watch tv with and talk to whenever you want.
*Your dog keeps you healthy *
People who have dogs walk more than people who don't have one, and they are four times more likely to meet physical activity guidelines. Adults should do at least 150 - 300 minutes or 2.5 to 5 hours per week of moderate intensity exercise. Dog owners spend close to 300 minutes each week walking their dogs.
*Dogs help you reduce stress *
Petting your dog, and being near them helps lower blood pressure and anxiety, and increases the feel good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. These neurochemicals help to calm down your nervous system to restore your well-being.
*Dogs bring meaning to your life*
If you live alone, or if the kids have left the nest, you may lack a sense of purpose. No matter how lost you feel -depressed or even lonely, having a dog to care for brings a sense of purpose and joy back to your life.
*Dogs help your heart *
Not only does having a dog help lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and blood sugars which help prevent heart attacks, people who do suffer a heart attack have better survival rates following.
If you are thinking about getting a dog and concerned about the amount of care required or some other issue, consider adopting one who is living in a cage at an animal shelter right now and needs a home. Not only are you rescuing an abused or abandoned animal, the amount of love and joy a dog brings far outweighs any amount of work involved.
I can't imagine living without our dog. She makes us laugh, gives us a reason to go for a walk and get up in the morning. Our grown sons have their own dogs now and when they bring them home to visit, we love them like our own. We call them our Grand doggers. We all go on walks, hikes and hang out together. Our dogs add so much joy to our lives.
--Lynell Ross, Zivadream
I have both a cat and a dog, Sally and Ted, respectively and let me tell you it was the best decision of my life. Both of them have been a positive influence in my life. Ted, my golden retriever is one of the most energetic puppies I've ever seen. Going on walks with him has been good for me both physically and mentally. It keeps me fit and has been good for me socially as going on walks has made me socially active and friendly. I used to suffer from mild depression tendencies and both of them have been very helpful in reducing them. Even more helpful than some of the medication prescribed by the doctor. Experts claim that pets have the ability to lower anxiety and blood pressure and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two of the neurochemicals that have a big role in maintaining calmness and wellbeing.
--Jennifer Willy, Etia
My husband and I own a small, golden pomchi mix and he is the light of our life! He loves us unconditionally and always gives us kisses and cuddles whenever we want. He is so loyal and protective and just wants to be around us no matter what we are doing, he just wants to be by our side. It warms my heart! He is a very feisty, active dog who loves to play. He keeps me active as we go on walks and runs together. He gives me a reason to go outside to parks and explore. He adores other people when they come over and all he asks is love from them. He’s the cutest thing ever and constantly keeps us laughing with his crazy antics.
Having a dog has really helped my stress and anxiety. With him around, I’m reminded that no matter how bad I think things are, there is always hope and love in the world. When I get really down or sad, he is very comforting and reminds me of the good things in this world.
To anyone that is on the fence about getting a dog, now is the best time to get one! Being quarantined with a dog makes life seem easier, more fulfilling and much less boring. It teaches you patience, responsibility, maturity and opens your heart to be more loving and compassionate. It is truly an amazing opportunity to own a dog!
--Tess Robison, Money Done Right
Dogs force us to keep a schedule. If they eat or drink, then they have to go outside. It gets us outside and away from our computers and TV's.
Watching dogs play with each other is hilarious and so gratifying. It makes us laugh which we don't do enough of.
Just the act of petting a dog has been proven to lower blood pressure.
You never have to go to the bathroom alone if you have a dog. You'll always have company and it's someone who will never complain about the smell.
You don't have to clean your floors as often. Dogs can usually catch food pieces before they ever hit the floor.
They are the best snuggle bugs. Most of the time you have to move them over because they will try to make you part of a puppy pile.
When their spirit reincarnates into a new physical form after they pass, it makes us realize that death is a pause, not an end. Same spirit. New body.
The biggest reason to have a dog is that they give us unconditional love. They don't care how we look or how much money we make or what kind of car we drive. They love us just the way we are.
--Terri Jay, TerriJay.com
Dogs play a huge role in my life and I am grateful for them every day. Here are my top 10 reasons why owning dogs will bring joy to everyone's life:
*1. They are always happy*
Dogs are always in a good mood. They will cheer you up no matter what. Dogs never wake up grumpy or get angry - they always have a smile on their face, and it is very contagious. It's hard to be unhappy next to a happy dog.
*2. They share everything with you*
There's nothing a dog wouldn't share freely - all they want is to have a great time with you. Dogs will bring you toys over and over so you can play together. They love to sit next to you and share your space.
*3. They are so smart!*
It is incredible how many tricks dogs can learn. They are really smart and creative animals, and if you spend some time teaching them, you will discover just how much they can learn.
*4. They ADORE you.*
Your dog will always look up at you with nothing but love in his eyes. He will wait for you at the end of the day, and be so happy to see you come home.
*5. They love to do new things*
Dogs are notoriously curious and enjoy everything novel and new. A trip to a park you have never been to before? A new type of treat you bought? Meeting a new doggy playmate? Your dog will be thrilled about it all.
*6. They can do sports with you*
Did you know that there are dozens of dog sports out there? From agility obstacle courses over frisbee freestyle to competition obedience routines, you can enroll your dog in a variety of different disciplines and compete alongside him in your favorite sport.
*7. They will love everyone you love*
Dogs love people, and especially *their* people. Your dog will most likely not only adore you, but also your parents, your partner, and your friends. Dogs can never get enough of meeting new people.
*8. They like to chill, too*
Tired after a long week at work and just want to relax at home for the weekend? Your dog will be glad to just snuggle up and Netflix and chill with you. As long as you are by his side, your canine companion will be glad to do anything you have in mind - even just lying on the couch all weekend!
*9. They are too funny*
Dogs have their own sense of humor and are guaranteed to make you laugh every day. When they play chase or perform their best tricks in order for you to give them a treat, you can't help but smile.
*10. They bring people together*
You cannot own a dog without meeting other dog owners - and pretty much all dog owners are awesome. It is a great way to connect with like-minded people who will soon become your best friends, and their dogs your dog's best friends. And what's better than that?
--Steffi Trott, Spiritdog Training
In reference to your query - I rescued my dog in November.
I live alone and work from home (even before all this kicked off!) so my dog has not only become a companion for me in a fairly solitary lifestyle, but also she has given me structure - I'll admit, there used to be days I wouldn't leave the house at all if I was busy with work. But, with my dog I have set times she needs me and they give my day purpose and structure. She's also something to think about outside of myself - which, especially in difficult times like the current outbreak, helps to keep things in perspective and stop me getting overwhelmed.
Oh and my dog is a bit of a nightmare - she's adorable, but, she pees on the sofa when she's scared, she hates other dogs, she snores so loud it wakes me up multiple times a night...but, that's part of the reward. Seeing her make small improvements, learning to trust me after years of abuse, coming back when I call her (even when she'd really rather attack another dog), even waking up to see that she's still there enjoying her sleep - makes me so proud and so happy that I've created a better life for her than the one she had.
If anyone were on the fence about getting a dog, I would say, the first couple of weeks will be rough - you'll wonder who this alien invader is in your home - but, it is the most rewarding, comforting and just joyful experience. Worth every pee stain and the hairs all over the place.
--Hannah Attewell, Hannah Mia Coaching
Fourteen years ago, a tiny Siberian Husky puppy came into my life. I had lots of hopes, dreams and plans for her - she would be a Champion show dog, she would earn obedience and agility titles, she would be a therapy dog - basically, she and I would be very busy playing as many dog sports as she had the aptitude and attitude to play. Duffy didn't turn out to have the right stuff to be a conformation show dog or agility competitor, and was a bit too rowdy to be a good therapy dog. She was fabulous at obedience and rally obedience, excelled at barn hunt, and her very best sport has always been best friend. She's the smartest dog ever, the most willing, able and happy to learn new things, is the benign boss of my other dog, Henley, and is the best bed dog ever. The first trick she learned was beep - I hold my hand, fingers outstretched, in any position and when I ask for beep she hits the center of my palm with her nose. Fourteen years later, it's still her very favorite game, and one she'll happily play with anyone, even someone she's just met. Duffy will be 15 in August, and though her steps are shorter, her vision and hearing aren't as good as they once were and she can't jump onto the bed anymore, my heart sings with every woo-woo and head-toss, every sleep-barking episode and every let's go let's go let's go dance she does when I reach for a leash. A friend asked me today what I'll do when Duffy and Henley are gone. The answer was easy - I'll cry a lot and get at least one more dog. Dogs bring such joy, delight, surprise, fun and happiness that I can't imagine life without one.
--Sandy Weaver, sandyjweaver.com
I got my dogs from puppies, and while pups are a lot of work it’s also amazing to watch them grow and learn. Their personalities are so unique, and it reminds you of the fact that they are actually a lot like kids under the age of five - but in all the best ways.
Raising a dog is a big responsibility, but there is nothing more rewarding than knowing you have been able to nurture and love a creature to the point that they grow up to be these wonderful bundles of love. They are a part of your family that you have to get up for every day so that they can be fed, let outside, walked, and played with.
Dogs love you unconditionally, they are good for your health, and just petting them has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. They are the perfect listeners, they help you meet new people (but with the ice-breaker of having a dog), and they ensure that you are up every day. They provide you with meaning, and that’s a massive gift from one being.
To those who are on the fence, I say that it’s important to remember that dogs come with responsibility. They are with you for the rest of their life, and they need to be walked daily as well as loved, groomed, and played with. If you have the time and dedication, you should absolutely jump in there and bring a new friend home.
--Jeff Carbridge, DogOwner.co.uk
FYI: Once you have a dog, a great dog blog to follow is Spike’s dog blog.