Why I need my dogs more than they need me

Why I Need My Dogs More Than They Need Me

Why I Need My Dogs More Than They Need Me

Life is hard and we all do what we can to find joy each and every day during some incredibly challenging times. I am no exception, but thankfully I have my dogs to make me smile and laugh. COVID showed us all that life can change almost instantly and that lesson teaches us how to be grateful and present rather than getting caught up and weighed down by life's stresses. Lately, I have been reflecting on how different the world seems now. The one certainty I have in my life and what keeps me feeling positive no matter what I am facing are my dogs.  

I have had so many incredible dogs over the years and each one left a lasting imprint on my heart and each one showed me how to live every day to the fullest. Right now I have two very special ladies that I adopted from Pug Nation a few years ago, my pug Ellie Bellie, and my French bulldog Moon Pie. Both have their own comeback story. Ellie Bellie was horribly abused and left with a broken leg and neck and little hope of ever being able to stand let alone walk again - she now flies! Moon Pie was born with problems that presented as she grew and left her paralyzed - she can now walk and run and though she still has mobility issues, she doesn't let them stop her from living life to the fullest. Both of my girls inspire me with their ability to overcome life's obstacles and in how they manage to enjoy every minute of every day no matter what that day may bring. They make me smile and laugh daily reminding me of what truly matters in life. How do they do that?

Sometimes I sit with them and realize just how much their silliness, their zest for life and their pure joy keeps me going. I know they love me, I know they love my attention but I also think that there is no way that they need me as much as I need them and that is totally ok. Sure they need my love and my care and I am not minimizing the impact I have on their lives, but when I compare what they give me to what I give them I think I am the real winner in this relationship.

It's no secret that the human-animal bond has a direct impact on people's health and well-being. In addition to helping us stay more active, studies have also shown how dogs can help people improve their mental health by reducing stress, as well as overcoming depression, loneliness, and anxiety.

For me personally one of my top methods for coping with stress are walks (or row boat rides) with my dogs which allows me to unwind, free my mind, and be in the present. Being able to get out of the office and away from my computer to enjoy the outdoors with Ellie Bellie and Moon Pie helps me to be grateful, appreciating what I have instead of worrying about what I'm missing. This time is usually when I come up with my best ideas or solutions to problems, and it always lifts the daily stresses away. 

Why I need my dogs more than they need me

Having experienced great loss with my dogs that came before Ellie and Moon Pie I am also acutely aware of how unfairly short our dogs' lives are. So no matter what I am facing I always remind myself of this fact in order to refocus my energy and time onto the parts of my life that add true meaning to my world - my dogs. This may make me sound a little crazy, but I don't think I am alone in feeling this way.

My mother has often told me how after losing my dad her dogs helped her by giving her purpose, preventing her from feeling lonely and making her laugh. That is an incredibly powerful gift they have given her, helping her to heal and overcome the grief that comes with losing your soulmate of more than 50 years. Her dogs put a smile on her face and gave her a reason to get out of bed every day during one of the most difficult times in her life.

Dogs help us heal mentally and emotionally

I am honestly not sure how people without pets face life's challenges. The impact that our dogs have on our lives is so noticeable, and so important that I feel sorry for those who have never experienced this bond and the magical healing abilities that come with it. Loneliness is now considered an epidemic and perhaps part of the solution could be found in these amazing souls. 

I am also very aware that dogs can pick up on our emotions and I would never forgive myself if I passed my stress along to them which means that I work hard at having the right mindset so that they get the best of me when we are together. In fact, I love who I am when I am with them because they make me a better person. Having them to care for, having them reminding me of what is truly important, and seeing how I can help them live their best lives all makes me a better person and I am so grateful. So now perhaps you understand why I feel that I need my dogs so much more than they need me! ❤️

Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of innovative assistive products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs and the families that care for them.