My dog Pax and I are a lot alike. He’s curious, energetic, playful, confident, extroverted, strong-willed, and funny. It’s been the most fun adventure mothering him for the past year and a half, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and life through this journey. So, here are 4 things he has taught me while raising him.
I LEARNED SELFLESSNESS
First and foremost, he taught me to be selfless. It’s already in my nature to be accommodating for others, but he showed me what taking care of someone else is all about. In the beginning, it was too much. I didn’t leave the house, I stopped running errands (hello, Amazon Prime), I stopped doing things that made me happy because: #1, I was consumed with his well-being, and #2, I also felt guilty when leaving.
A lot has changed as Pax has grown; I have less of the guilty feelings, and I know we both appreciate some alone time. But it hasn’t changed what selflessness means. When my husband and I decided to get a puppy, we acknowledged the challenges, adventures, and changes we would have to make as a family. Since we talked about this prior—we were okay with putting him first, and it actually made us even closer!
Pax was recently in the hospital, and I had a laundry list of things I needed to do. But, none of those things matter when your fur baby is sick. Everything stopped, and my sole focus became him. Of course, I have moments when I reflect on how much more simple life was before Pax, I wouldn’t change anything about my situation because learning to take care of another being has brought me confidence, responsibility, an abundance of love that I didn’t know existed, and has taught me how to be a mom.
I LEARNED FLEXIBILITY & GOING WITH THE FLOW
Pax is a sock stealing, paper eating, plant connoisseur. He is super silly and loves attention. He is absolutely the definition of an only child, and I can confirm that because I am an only child myself. I like to plan my days ahead, and having a dog can challenge that structure. He has his own personality that I’ve come to learn doesn’t always match what I have planned.
For example, I might be in a writing mood and want to sit down with a cup of coffee and just go for it when he keeps grabbing socks and barking at me to get me to play. I have a choice at that moment to either be frustrated or to engage with him. What does it really take? 5-10 minutes? And the way I feel after playing with him is entirely delighted and full of love. I am not telling anyone by any means to drop their lives and solely focus on their dog—I am saying that life is all about flexibility and managing everything in your life is EASIER when you go with the flow rather than try to be so structured.
I LEARNED TO BE MORE PRESENT
Walking Pax can be a nightmare. I have a plan in my head that I want to be walking swiftly for 30 minutes so I can get my heart rate up and he wants to smell every damn rock, flower, and frog statue along the way. I’ll admit, in the past I have been frustrated with him for literally stomping his paws into the ground and wanting to slow down.
That taught me a HUGE LESSON. Be more present. Literally, BE MORE PRESENT. Smell the flowers, listen to the birds, be aware of my surroundings. I’m so busy that I often don’t get a chance to be present at my current moment. I am often thinking of my to-do list or what’s next on my calendar. Our walks are different now after I realized the gift he was teaching me—to slow down, enjoy nature, and be truly present with my thoughts.
I LEARNED TO DREAM BIG
And finally, Pax has taught me to dream big and go for it. We were in a terrifying boat accident that left me in the hospital for 10 days after the boat propellers lacerated my legs. That moment could have been very different for us both, and it turned out to be such a blessing. It’s hard to write because it brings so much emotion, but this lesson is a big one for me.
Life is short. Anything can happen at any time. Dogs literally live their full potential every day. Dogs don’t have thoughts that tell them that they aren’t good enough—dogs are just what they are. I read an article once about dogs not living as long as humans and the thing stated that dogs don’t live as long because they fulfill everything they meant to do in such a short time. So I’m going to live like Pax. I watch him run into the dog park and go up and meet new friends, I watch him get better and better at catching tennis balls, I watch him eat when he’s hungry and stop when he’s full. I watch Pax live his best life, and it inspires me to get out of my own way and live mine.
What lessons has your pup taught you? Share in the comments!