How my dog changed my life

Komorebi, Sept 2017

Five years ago, I did the best thing I’ve ever done in my life – I adopted a rescue dog.

While it may seem somewhat dramatic to say that adopting him changed my life, I wouldn’t put it any other way. He saved me, but not in the way most people would think.

A few years ago, my life was turned upside down by illness, a relationship break-down and stress from a period of uncertainty at work. Without even realising it, I was desperate for something to take me away from my life – a distraction. Luckily, I lived in a pet-friendly rental property, so I decided to adopt a dog from my local shelter. The plan was to offer a loving home to a needy dog and feel like I’d done something good for the world. Little did I realise that it would be me that would be so profoundly impacted.

A new beginning

Before adopting my dog, I used to go for walks, but I was usually too busy looking at my phone to enjoy it. There were times I would also feel a bit self-conscious walking by myself. When I started walking with my dog, all that changed. Together, we explored corners of our city that I’d never seen before. He insisted on smelling every single tree we walked past, which forced me to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. His obvious enthusiasm was utterly infectious, and our walks became the highlight of my day.

I used to feel like my worries consumed my every waking moment, but as soon as I walked through my front door, everything just melted away. I know it sounds silly, but if you’ve ever experienced the unconditional love of a pet, you’ll know what I mean. Even on the toughest days, when words couldn’t articulate what I felt, we would sit together in silence and I would feel at peace. Before I knew it, my stress levels had reduced, and my focus shifted to loving others, rather than constantly dwelling on my own problems. Most of all, my dog and I attracted the kind of people that reflected the person he’d helped me become.

A lesson in love and loss

My little guy suddenly passed away a few months ago and it was the biggest shock of my life. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye and if you’ve ever experienced the sudden loss of a loved one, you’ll understand when I say that my heart shattered into little pieces as I pondered the million ways I could’ve prevented this tragic event from happening. Every element of my life was impacted by the intensity of my loss and I wished more than anything that I could have another day with him, just to tell him I loved him. I was embarrassed to express the extent of my grief to other people because I felt they wouldn’t understand that he was like my child.

It saddens me to think that some people struggle to find a home because of their pet and feel so grateful that at least I didn’t have to deal with that. I honestly believe that trying to convince anyone that my dog should be allowed to live in the same place as me, would be disrespectful to the bond I shared with him.

The truth is, I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for him. I spent some of the happiest moments with my dog and the grief is still devastating. But even in my saddest moments, I know that our time together completely changed the course of my life, and I will never look back.

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Nothing beats coming home to your pet

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