I am a self-proclaimed “cat lady” and absolutely ADORE my precious kitty. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t have a soft spot in my heart for dogs! In fact, growing up I had both a cat and a dog. My dog, Mugzie, was my buddy, my pal. Come to think of it, I’ve probably put off getting another dog simply because I don’t know if he/she could ever live up to the reputation and awesomeness of Mugzie (I mean, just look at that face!).
Having a dog, though, is a lot of work. I’ve often compared it to having a child (I know, it’s not REALLY the same thing — but hear me out) because of all the extra attention it needs. A cat, on the other hand, really just needs you to keep the food and water dishes full. Having a human there from time to time to brush you and snuggle with are just extra bonuses. If I stay at work late or go out with friends for drinks, I typically don’t ever worry about my cat. She can handle things. She’s good. (And when I sing her a little P.Y.T. when I return home, she has been known to give me the “oh, you were gone?” look.) But a dog — it needs you…like really, really wants and needs you. These past two weeks, I offered to watch my friend’s dog, Miley, and got a taste of what it’s like to own a dog again. This whole experience has confirmed that I’m probably still not ready to own a dog (or have children anytime soon for that matter), simply because I’m still a little selfish with my time. But, it did make me think of something: Having a dog can help you become a better person. Here’s why.
Having a dog forces you to leave work early
(or maybe just on time)
There have been many days I’ve spent WAYYYYY too many hours in the office. When there’s a precious pup waiting on you, though, you find a way to get out of the cubicle and make your way home. (Also, the fear of an “accident” sets in as you pray you make it there in good time.) There are probably workaholics out there that enjoy the office, but I’m not one of them. I like to find my pleasure and fulfillment outside of work —because jobs can come and go. Knowing that there was someone waiting on me helped me put my life priorities before my work priorities, giving me a better balance. Leaving work at a decent time meant that I had to get my projects DONE so I could peace out before rush hour traffic. I learned how to become a better worker – and also to remember that life is more than just work.
Having a dog helps you stay active
Oh, how many days have I vegged out? The answer is probably too many. While I try to force myself to exercise on a regular basis, that little voice in my head that says, “Just have some chocolate and watch Real Housewives” often wins. Unlike cats, dogs need to go on walks. (I just imagined trying to do this with Kenzie…and while it would be slightly entertaining, it would probably be very dangerous to attach a cat with claws and vampire teeth to a leash.) These past two weeks, I went for walks with Miley around the neighborhood, on nature trails and at dog parks. It wasn’t just about my own exercise, but I needed to make sure that Miley was staying active, too. In a way, it was like we were holding each other accountable.
Dogs can help you stop to smell the roses…
…and the trees, the grass, that sign, maybe this weird spot over here. Really, dogs like to stop and smell just about any and every thing. On my walks with Miley, we made several short pit stops. While it probably lessened my calorie-burning walk, it did help me realize that I didn’t stop to look around me very often.
For instance, this is right across from my subdivision. It had just cleared after a rainstorm and was so serene the day we walked by it. Plus, it smelled gloriously strong of summer flowers. How had I not noticed its charm before? Simple, I hadn’t taken the time to stop and smell the roses – or in this case, the jasmine. Dogs can remind us to enjoy the simplest of things, to take the time to enjoy all of the delicate beauties around us.
Dogs make you feel appreciated
I know I’m not shocking anyone with this, but it’s so very true. It’s pretty nice to come home to a wagging tail and excited whimpers. It’s an odd sensation to know that when I leave the room, someone misses me (even if I’m literally just washing my hands in the bathroom). Recently, I’ve been hard on myself more than usual. I’ve questioned my self-worth from time to time and thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, or even deserving enough to be just enough. Don’t get me wrong; my family and friends do a great job at cheering me up and boosting my self-confidence. There’s something about truly feeling needed, though, that helps satisfy that “I am enough” feeling. I know Miley misses her human mommy (as does she miss her “fur baby”), but for these past two weeks I was good enough. I didn’t have to do anything but be there and be me, and that was enough.
I still love my cat
Although I can see how having a dog can help you become a better person, I’m still a firm believer in owning a cat — and that cat people are great people, too. My Kenzie gives me love and nuzzles like no one else. She knows how to cheer me up when I’m sick and in a bad mood. She is that friend that tells me it’s totally OK to stay in on a Friday night — because Friday is Bride Day on TLC. She gives me space to “do me” without needing to worry about her.
But to all those dog people out there — I totally get it.