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woman with emotional support animal
woman with emotional support animal
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Life Lessons My Dog Has Taught Me

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

After 12 years of begging for a dog, my parents finally caved. A couple of months before the height of COVID-19, my family and I adopted a dog, an eight-week-old goldendoodle named Aria. She has been in our lives for four years now and since then life has never been the same. There have been many things that she has indirectly taught me. 

Lesson #1: Be Stubborn (Sometimes)

If I were asked to describe my dog in three words, the word stubborn would be at the top of that list. She is very stuck in her ways and vocal. Whether she demands to be pet or whines and paws until we give her food, she is persistent. Ironically, she isn’t stubborn about everything, just the things that she feels are important to her at that time. 

She has taught me how important it is to be stubborn. The word stubborn has a very negative connotation and can be seen as an unlikeable quality or unattractive characteristic. While this can be true, some things in life that are important enough to be stubborn for. Aria helped me see that it is important to be stubborn for important things and what I value the most. Whether that be working toward my career path or spending quality time with friends and family, there are some important things in life you have to be stubborn about.

Lesson #2: Have a Routine

Every day around 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Aria starts getting antsy waiting for my mom to log off work and to take her out to the yard and run around. She pretty much sleeps throughout the workday, but as soon as it’s 4:30 p.m., she starts pawing and whining for people’s attention. As soon as she hears my mom turn off her desk light, she runs down the stairs and bangs on the deck door to be let out. She has a schedule and she sticks to it. This is something that I never expected about owning a dog.

I learned the importance of having a routine; a dependable schedule brings you order throughout the day. She taught me the importance of keeping things consistent. Whether it is professional or personal consistency, she showed me that consistency is important for your well-being. 

Lesson #3: Don’t Let Fear Control Your Life

Aria has a very interesting personality. She is a 55-pound dog who pretends to be fearless, but in reality is scared of so many things. She is scared of the vacuum and will run away if it comes too close. She is scared of big dogs even though she is a big dog. She gets paranoid when we walk her in the night. The list could go on and on. But one major fear she has is getting into the car. She hates the car. She is so afraid of it that even if she gets a hint that someone is leaving the house, she will go hide. We even hired a trainer to help her work through this fear, and even the trainer couldn’t figure out how to best help her get over this fear. If anyone in our family changes their clothes, sprays perfume, grabs their purse or puts on shoes, she goes and hides in a spot where we can’t grab her. Ironically, she loves going to new places and exploring, but her fear of the car prevents her from doing that. I learned that I should never let fear hold me back.

Seeing Aria be deprived of doing the thing she loves to do helped me see that I shouldn’t let fear hold me back from exploring and having new experiences in life. Sometimes we can’t take her places because she won’t get in the car, so she stays home. I never want to be in a position where my fear of something doesn’t even let me try. 

Lesson #4: Fight For What You Want

Aria loves to steal things around the house, from a dishrag in the kitchen, sweaty, stinky socks from the shoe closet or a specific pair of slippers that my dad wears. If you hear her paws quickly scurry across our wood floor, you can bet that she has stolen something that she is not supposed to have and she knows it. She usually runs straight to the living room, jumps on the couch and puts whatever item she stole under her body. She lays her head on top of it to protect it, which makes it harder for us to take it away from her. When we find her, we try to take the item away and she definitely fights hard for it. We either cave and let her have it or we manage to get it away from her. If she wants it badly enough, she will always find a way to get it back.

Through her, I learned that some things in life are just worth fighting for. To her, it might be some sweaty socks, but it has been my dream since the fifth grade to become a doctor. She taught me that if I want something bad enough, I have to keep trying to get it, even if it is hard and takes a long time to get it.

In four short years, Aria has left an undeniable mark on my life. From her stubbornness to her determination to hold onto what she loves, she has shown me that the greatest life lessons can come from the most unexpected places. Through her quirks and unique personality traits, she has quietly and consistently taught me invaluable life lessons. Aria is the center of joy in my family. She has given my family wisdom and laughter. Mostly, she has been the best exposure to unconditional love. I am so grateful for the lessons she has taught me. She is not just a pet. She is forever a part of my family and I would not have it any other way.

A writer for HerCampus in the Saint Louis University chapter.