My Dog Makes Me Healthier
My family had cats while I was growing up, but I always loved dogs. I used to read books about different breeds and picture which one I would get for my own one day.
I always gravitated towards golden retrievers. They look like they are constantly smiling, and remind me of the old wise dog Shadow in Homeward Bound.
Which is why, a few years ago, I got my golden puppy, Kona. She was an unstoppable ball of energy from the second I met her.
Everyone knows having a puppy is a lot of work, but I didn’t quite realize how much exercise she needed until she was around ten months old.
One of the best side effects from having an blissfully spastic 70-pound dog is that in order to get her energy out, I have to prioritize being active with her.
Here are a few ways how she does, in fact, make me healthier:
Walks. Lots and lots of walks. When you don’t have a yard for a big dog, you need to walk for her to get her business done. Dog owners know that this walk could be anywhere from a minute to an hour every morning, noon, and night. During the walks, she gets to enthusiastically greet every person she passes, and I get to be up and out around the neighborhood, listening to music or podcasts. It’s a win-win.
I work out so that she can be tired out. Whenever possible, I try to make my workout my dog’s workout. This gives me an excuse to prioritize exercising early in the day. We can run 4 miles and she still isn’t tired when we get back, although I definitely am. I don’t even know what her limit is, but it’s likely more than mine.
Leaving the party early. What dog owner hasn’t used the excuse “I have to go let my dog out?” Nothing good happens after midnight, especially when you aren’t 25 anymore. Having a dog at home doubles as a scapegoat to leave a party, right before you have that drink that pushes you into the hangover zone the next day.
Routines help us all. Pets and kids love routines, but I believe they are good for everybody in some form or another. Setting a routine for my dog means that I’m also planning more things in my own life. It helps me stay more organized when I have a central thing I have to plan around, and is also good for my general mental health.
Honestly, we should all be more like golden retrievers in our lives.
I had a coworker that once said she was like a bitter schnauzer; scowling and indifferent, and I was like a golden retriever; eager to please and excited for everything. We even printed out photos of each breed to put on our desks to really lean into the metaphors.
When I left that job, she told me to never stop being like a golden. Never stop being curious and wanting to learn. Keep that abundant energy and channel it towards being happy, active, and meeting people.
My dog inspires me to do just that…no matter how much she sheds.