Why Getting A Dog Changed My Life & Made Me A Better Person

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I feel like I need to give this post a disclaimer of; if you don't like dogs, think people who love dogs are idiots or do not care to understand why people are so attached to their pups, then I would X out now because this post will most definitely not be for you. We can all probably come to the same conclusion that I am a big dog lover, some might even say obsessed, which is somewhat surprising because when I was young. I was bitten by a dog and was utterly terrified of them until I was around the age of 16. Since then, dogs have become a huge part of my life and now I own two of my own it finally felt like the right time to sit and write this post as it's been a topic that plays on my mind daily.

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IT'S NOT JUST A DOG

This is something I see said so often and often when people are going through the loss of a pet, so many say well it's just a dog why is it such a big deal? For the vast majority of people, their pets are a huge part of their families and it wasn't until we got Josie did our house feel like a true home. I will never think of my pups as just pets but I'm also aware that they are not humans either as much as I love to make them out to be. Whenever you spend a large amount of time with animals you soon realise that they have so many little quirks and truly do have personalities of their own. The dogs are my biggest companions in life and have made the world of difference to my day to day.

IT'S MADE ME HAVE MORE FAITH IN MYSELF 

I'm definitely not a confident person, with most things in life and because I had such a rough time at the beginning of my twenties when I "should" have been starting my life away from university but wasn't able to it made me really doubt myself. Moving out and getting Josie completely changed my life and not just in the most obvious way. Properly looking after myself and having a lot of responsibility with not only my life but my boyfriend's too and then adding a little dog into the mix was scary. She was ours to take care of and make sure she thrived as well as provide a brilliant life for her and even though there times where I found it incredibly tough. Now I can look back and remind myself of how far she has come it's given me such a confidence boost in knowing that I'm a lot more capable than I give myself credit for. So often, especially online raising and having a dog is portrayed as really fun and easy but it's hard. It's not all nice dog walks in the woods, sometimes it's running around after them when they're eating horse poo and thinking it's the best game ever. Or when they're teething puppies and they're hanging off every item of clothing you own and will not stop biting you, it's not so picturesque.

IT'S MADE ME MORE OUTGOING

I'm pretty shy and I'm incredibly introverted too so the combination can really hold me back socially. But having Josie and getting out with her every day [apart from when it rains because she is a total whimp]. Has really made me more confident in social situations and talking to complete strangers is now the norm for me. Of course, the conversation mostly revolves around dogs but over time when you see a person, again and again, a friendship can really blossom. After having a nasty incident with Josie at our local walk I started walking around the area where my dad lives and it's the best choice I ever made. It's taken a few months but I've created a really solid foundation of dog friends and know most people who walk there which has made a huge difference for me. Not only is Josie happier but it brightens my day too, especially as I'm on my own so often!

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IT'S IMPROVED MY MENTAL HEALTH AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT

Although dogs aren't always easy the difference Josie and now little baby Edie [more to come on her soon] have made to my mental state is incredible. And they're not a fix, I still feel incredibly down and anxious, fall into horrific patterns of phantom OCD thoughts and return to old rituals. But the difference is still there and that is what matters the most. In general, I feel so much happier and content on the day to day and don't find myself focusing on the really tiny details that don't matter anymore. There really is no question in my mind of why dogs are used for therapy and why such a thing as anxiety dogs exist. Whenever I've had a really bad day or am sat at my desk feeling tense and stressed out and the dogs come into my office or I see them curled up together it instantly makes me happy, no matter how bad my day has been. A couple of weeks ago my dad was rushed into hospital with an awful health scare and when Edie arrived into our lives and he got to sit and cuddle with a tiny pup you could see the happiness on his face. For once that week he wasn't terrified about what had happened and that is incredible.

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it has made me feel complete 

 When we got my family dog, Bella, it was a year after my mum had passed away and she kept us going. She gave us something to focus on and even though she will obviously never replace a human she made our family feel a little less broken. And when my boyfriend and I brought home Josie our home instantly felt full and filled with love and she really turned us into a family. So when we brought home Edie she was the cherry on top, I've always wanted another dog as Josie is so pupper orientated and thrives amongst her own breed. And she made me feel like my family was complete and I've been on cloud 9 ever since. I realise to some this may sound ever so slightly ridiculous, but I adore my pups and the unconditional love they give me is like nothing else I've ever known in life. Having a whippet run at you at full speed because they want to be with is quite the experience.

It's made me calmer & MORE UNDERSTANDING

Calm is definitely never a word I would use to describe myself, I'm always on edge and tightly wound and carry myself so rigid it's a miracle I don't snap sometimes. And even though dogs can be stressful having them around constantly has made me so much calmer. I find much more joy in the day to day now they're around and that is an incredible thing. Not only have they calmed me down but they've also made more understanding as a person. It's all too easy to be judgemental and make snap judgments of other people, it also helps now I'm older and way more settled in my life but I know the dogs have definitely helped. Not only am I kinder to others but I'm kinder to myself too, I don't get so irritated at myself for not having everything together as I know I'm doing my best. One of the best things about dogs is they just love you, they don't care whether or not you've done your make up that day or you're wearing sweatpants again. Something we could all do with implementing into our lives in some way... 

AND BABY EDIE...

If you follow my social media platforms [Twitter & Instagram] then you will know that I'm no longer a one whippet woman. For months and months, I've wanted another dog for Josie, she's a total pack animal and thrives amongst her own. She, of course, loves her humans but it's nothing compared to how much she loves other dogs and is so different around them. When it came to a second dog we knew we wanted to try and rescue another sighthound if it was an option for us. There hasn't been a day go by in the past 6ish months that I've not looked on every single rehoming site I know of and last Friday the 20th of April we saw a private ad for a little whippet girl needing a new home. Her owner had some terrible things happen in his own life meaning he was unable to have a puppy so she needed a new home. And it didn't take us too long to know she would be perfect for us and Josie and in just a week I've seen a completely different side of Josie. She's so calm and patient with an excited little puppy with teeth sharper than razors and absolute adores playing with her and then cuddling and licking her ears and belly in a morning and before bed. It's the most incredible and heartwarming thing to see. Mostly when you see sighthounds they're typically in packs or pairs and now I completely understand why.

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How have animals affected your life?