How Adopting a Dog Transformed My Life

Face licks and tail wags included.

By Phoebe Neuman

Before we get too far into this, let’s be clear: I am a dog person through and through. I grew up with dogs and have always been the person who will pet strangers’ dogs without asking (and without an ounce of shame.) But for multiple reasons, I never felt ready to adopt a dog of my own. That was until, on a whim, my boyfriend and I went to an adoption event hosted by a local shelter last May. There, we met Gia — a sweet, shy, and scruffy charcoal-colored Lhasa Apso mix. There was no leaving her behind.

Gia brings joy into spaces that I never thought possible, and has transformed my life for the better in more small ways than I can count in the short time we’ve been together.

If you’re on the fence about bringing a pup-in-need home with you, this post is for you. Because trust me — the benefits of adopting a dog far outweigh feeling nervous about not having a big enough yard or being worried about still being able to go out to dinner. And let’s be real, one of the major perks of being stuck at home for the foreseeable future is that it makes for an ideal time to welcome in a new member to your family. Still not sure? Read on to discover just a few of the ways adopting a dog can transform your life.

How having pets around improves mood...

image by chanel dror

Dogs Help Set a Healthy Routine

One of the biggest reasons I was nervous to adopt a dog was the fact that my (already small) apartment doesn’t have any outdoor space. I knew that would mean having to go on at least four walks a day to ensure no major accidents happened on my beloved couch. But what surprised me once I actually got Gia home was how much I’ve grown to absolutely love our walk schedule. Getting out with her first thing in the morning for a trip around the block is such a nice way to set up my day, and going on a longer walk after wrapping up work in the evening helps me loosen up after being stuck at my desk. Plus, those walks make sure I get a bit of movement in – even if I don’t have time for a full workout.

As much as I long for the day when I’ll have the luxury of just letting her out into the yard to do her business, I don’t want to let go of our walk routine. I know both of us are healthier for it.

entertaining with juley le - dog and dinner party

image by buff strickland

Dogs Help You Find Joy in the Little Things

I’ve always found walking helps clear my head, but one of the big reasons why I love our daily walks is that they remind me to notice – and deeply appreciate – all of the little things I usually don’t pay attention to. Watching her get so excited to smell the flowers blooming in my neighborhood or chase a squirrel up a tree (don’t worry, I’ll never let her catch one), helps me tap into that feeling of pure, almost child-like joy that can be so hard to reach when I’m wrapped up in the stress of day-to-day life.

With a dog in the house, there is always something to laugh about — no matter what is happening in your life. Whether it be the tiny bark she attempts to use to protect us from delivery men or the truly hilarious way she begs for belly rubs, having her around is an endless source of belly laugh-inducing entertainment.

jessi afshin's personal style with her dog chloe

image by divina stennfeld

Dogs Are the Ultimate Wingmen

I am ashamed to admit that before I brought a dog home, I was not a person that really interacted with my neighbors or the co-workers outside of my immediate team. But having Gia by my side both at home and at work has completely opened me up. It gives people a reason to approach me, and she is an instant low-pressure conversation starter (which is an introvert’s dream). I never anticipated having a dog would help me feel better connected those around me, but she transforms every interaction I have while we are out together into a positive one. I am so grateful for the relationships I’ve formed as a result of people interacting with her, and for the sense of community she’s created.

Kelly DeWitt and her dogs

image by travis norman

Dogs Help You Focus on Something Outside of Yourself

Let’s be honest, adopting a dog isn’t all sunshine and roses. There are tough moments, especially because rescue pups often come with some emotional baggage of their own. But having something to focus on outside of yourself and your own immediate problems — something to channel positive energy and love towards — can work wonders for your mindset. Helping Gia come out of her shell and learn to trust and love unconditionally has been a truly rewarding experience, one that is similar to the warm and fuzzy feelings you get after volunteering or dedicating your time to a cause you truly care about. It has given me a daily purpose that I never expected when I brought her home, and one that has taught me to approach difficult situations wholeheartedly with patience, openness, and wonder.

Ready to take the plunge? Check out some ways to adopt a pet – or simply help a dog in need here.