Adopting a dog is like getting bangs; if you don't give it some thought, you'll end up in a hairy situation. (Don't worry, your bangs look great.) Impulsivity might be your friend when you're swiping right, but don't invite it in when considering pets. The truth is, there's a lot to consider before you get a dog and there's a lot to learn after you get a dog. Fortunately for you, I can think of no better way to celebrate my two-week anniversary with Mira than to bare it all (down to the bone).
Before I even considered actually getting a dog —more than the daydreams— I had to feel entirely situated in my apartment, know what my daily plans were and ask every contact with an emoji on my phone. I approached my days wondering, "What would today look like if I had a dog?" Accounting for my responsibilities and commitments, I had to be honest with myself regarding the quality of life I could provide a dog. I shouldn't have to make sacrifices for my dog, merely adjustments to my life that reflect my new responsibilities. That's the difference between canceling plans with your 'BooBear <3' and altering those plans to be set in a dog-friendly area. If you have to quit activities that you would otherwise want to do, you risk resenting the dog solely for having needs. Once I realized that I had enough wiggle room (get it?) amidst my hectic schedule, it was all downhill from there. As in, Mira loves to sprint down the hills of Cascades Park and I love to follow her.
In my few weeks as a single dog mom, I've learned that: Puppies get easily distracted, so train them at home; Dogs don't care that they have their own bed; No pair of socks are safe; Nightmares are not just for humans, neither are farts. Above all, I internalized that there is a living being who depends on me for quite literally everything, including her exercise. I had to figure out how to tire her without taking eight walks a day or turning my apartment into a dog training center. Conveniently, since I’d already intended to incorporate fitness into my daily life, I made a habit out of walking her in a way that benefits my health. Now my mornings include cardio, sunshine and time to organize my thoughts while we stroll around the park.
Apart from what I've learned, I've also been loved. And licked. Lots of L words, you'll see. But seriously, there's something to be said about the loyal companionship of a dog. Mira might break all my socks, but she'd never break my heart. She's the warmest alarm clock I've ever invested in. She's also my favorite cooking partner because she thinks everything is delicious and doesn't try to talk to me while I'm reading a recipe. There will always be a pee puddle or two (or three or four or five), but adopting a dog in college has been a truly paw-sitive investment.
All images are courtesy of Ana Dolorit