7 Wellness Lessons I’ve Learned from my Dog

1. Cuddles Really are a Cure

We all need and deserve physical affection from friends, family, significant others, and ourselves. Cuddling up with Bradley and Devin after an especially stressful day has taught me that there really is something to all this cuddling.

Physical touch can be as fleeting as a pet on the head, or last as long as a good hug. Seeing the joy that Bradley gets from cuddles and kisses reminds me that those things are so important for all of us. Affection can make someone’s day just a little bit better, and seeing the joy that Bradley gets from every pet and snuggle reminds me that we all feel our best when we are getting the love and affection we crave.

2. Grass is Magical

Sometimes I forget how beautiful a park or yard can be. I forget about the simple joys that green can bring to my spirit. I especially forget how nice it can be to roll around and lie in the grass when I spend so much time at the gym or working or driving. Walking in the grass with bare feet has reminded me of the pure bliss of having 2 feet (or 4 paws) firmly rooted in the earth and the smell of life weaving its way into my lungs. One of the major bonuses of having a dog is feeling the urge to go to park, rather than a gym all the time.

3. Slowing Down has Value

As I’ve taken Bradley on walk after walk, with or without Devin, I’ve found that slowing down has changed how I see the world. I let Bradley guide me; I let him take his time to explore the grasses and smells; we move along at his pace, rather than mine.

If we were to walk my way, it would be fast-paced and driven, focused on maximizing our distance for the minimal amount of time. I see and experience so much more, from the simple colors of a neighbor’s flowers to the heat of the sun on my neck when I slow down.

4. Mindful Time in Many Forms

Devin and I can literally spend an entire hour just sitting and petting Bradley. Some of the most meditative time I’ve had in the last 2 weeks has been when I spent it just completely attuned to our dog.

Listening to his breathing, feeling his fur, and examining his eyes and ears and the pattern of his nose has reminded me that mindfulness comes in all kinds of forms. Each form of mindfulness helps us to grow in small ways towards greater levels of serenity and awareness.

5. No Time Taken for Granted

Bradley greets us as though it’s been a decade whether we’ve been gone for 10 minutes or an hour. He reminds me not to take time apart for granted, and that excitement and joy for another person, whether you saw them this morning or haven’t seen them in 5 years, is never overrated. I’m reminded to celebrate every minute I get to spend with people I love the same way Bradley does.

6. Keep Practicing Patience

Becoming more patient comes with the territory of owning a dog. A whole new level of patience arises when it comes to things like cleaning up poopy paws, untangling twisted leashes, and teaching a dog to sit. I love taking the time to be patient with Bradley, but it’s made me see that I could be a lot more patient in other aspects of my life, too.

It’s so interesting how easily we can be patient with a pet, yet not with ourselves or other people or the circumstances of life. Practicing pet patience reminds me that wellness is cultivated through being patient with myself and the circumstances life hands me.

happy wherever he goes!; processed with VSCO

7. Pure and Unadulterated Joy

Finally, having a dog shows you a level of joy you sometimes forget is so easily accessible. In the monotony or challenges of day-to-day life, the ease with which Bradley gets joy, from a new toy to a treat, has been reminding me that there really is joy everywhere. Joy is available to us as much as we want it to be. Rather than imagining joy as something to strive for, maybe it’s much more of a state of mind, a way of being rather than a specific achievement.

What other lessons have you learned from having a pet? Leave a comment below and share your own experience of lessons you’ve learned from becoming a pet parent!

2 thoughts on “7 Wellness Lessons I’ve Learned from my Dog”

  1. I’ve learned from our dogs that living a joyful life does not require the I “go” anywhere. Many/most of the mindful, fulfilled people I know place a very high value on traveling to far away destinations to gain experiences that enrich their lives. I completely understand and have this desire myself, but my dogs remind me every day that there is nowhere they need to go to be completely fulfilled. All they care about is being near their loves ones.

    Dogs have taught me that there is no need to form an attachment to material objects to be happy. The ball or toy that brings immense joy while playing in the yard is then discarded there with no concern. The “thing” served its purpose and doesn’t need to be given attention that can be directed back to relationships between loved ones.

    No time sleeping is ever wasted. Starting a nap an hour after having just slept for 10 hours is a perfectly good use of time.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! The pure presence of pups and dogs in each moment has been fantastic to witness and remind me how often I am caught up thinking about where I else I need to be when the here and now is perfectly wonderful. I reply to you as I watch my little guy taking a nap on his doggie bed, and I think he’d agree with you that naps really are never wasted time 🙂 thank you so much for reading!

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