Every girl needs a dog. It’s science, well, truthfully I don’t know it if is science, but it should be. I am fairly certain there is some type of study that shows endorphins being released when you see a cute animal.
Either way, it is true, EVERY girl needs a dog.
I look back on my childhood (thanks to therapy), and the one constant thing I remember was the dogs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did not live in a house full of random animals.
I remember each dog based on each stage of my life.
I remember being a young, little, chubby toddler cuddling our family dog’s new puppies. I remember caring so deeply about animals. Some of my first real memories involved our family dog. My family shared in my love of animals, and there was always a family dog in our home. ALWAYS.
Having a dog taught me more than just responsibility, it taught me how to love. Sounds super cliche right? It is completely true, though.
Yes, I learned about feeding, walking, bathing, and caring for another being, which in my young brain was a great distraction from the scary world around me. Having a pet grounded me.
I watched my mother’s illness take her in and out of the hospital often. I remember getting off the school bus daily and not knowing if my mother would be home or if she would be in the hospital. While my anxious baby brain was worried about all the big grown-up things, the one thing I didn’t have to question was if our family dog “Missy” would be waiting at the door for me. She was every time. It was a constant reminder that I was loved and everything would be OK.
Dogs devote their entire lives to loving their owners.
For us, they are a small part of our world. For them, we are their whole world. Having a dog taught me to love something other than myself. It helped me feel needed and important. Not only was it a comfort to see our dog standing at the door or sitting on the back of the couch looking out the window each day, but she was also a great distraction and fun to play with.
So, technically, the first family dog I remember didn’t like me. I was a busy toddler when she came around. which made our relationship start a little rocky. She didn’t like me, but she loved me. While my mother was certainly her favorite, she still waited for me to get off the bus each afternoon. When a thunderstorm rolled around, she left the comfort of my mother’s lap and found me.
Why me? I have no idea, however, she kept me feeling grounded.
It wasn’t until I grew up, got married, and moved away from my parents that I understood the absence of not having a dog.
Coming home to a quiet house without a four-legged companion was boring. My newlywed heart longed for a dog, but at the time we had very little money and space. After almost a year of marriage, we finally adopted a puppy that was headed to a no-kill shelter in northern Virginia.
We made him the highlight of our entire world. He was, essentially, our first baby. Charlie had a birthday party, he went on beach trips, to the mountains, and was the subject of many creative writing assignments. For three years, our entire free time revolved around loving our puppy, and we loved him quite well.
Soon our family grew and our Charlie was right beside us through all the changes. He helped us welcome both of our beautiful daughters into the world. He was the best, most caring, smartest dog I had ever owned.
He was my therapy.
My daughters grew up around him. By six months of age, my youngest knew to look around the room for him in the mornings. He helped me greet and wake up our girls every morning for five faithful years. He became my oldest daughter’s therapy. He became her constant, he grounded her. Just like my first family dog had grounded me.
Charlie helped our oldest find happiness in the silly things in life. He licked her face to make her laugh, and then he would also hide from her when she was having a toddler tantrum (sometimes I hid, too). He wore his expressions through his eyes and was more human than dog if I am truthful.
When the doctors told us he wasn’t well, I stayed up that night crying. He sat beside me and licked my tears away. He didn’t know I was crying over him; he just knew that his human needed him.
This relationship, this dynamic is exactly why every girl needs a dog.
When he passed, it left a gaping hole in my heart. My daughter, only four at the time, cried ugly tears and felt grief for the very first time. I didn’t know how to help her because I also felt the deep pain of losing my best friend. My heart told me to never love another dog, it is too painful. My brain told me it was too risky to open up our home to another animal. But I saw the longing in my daughters’ eyes, I heard my then 1-year-old call out for her dog, and I knew, every girl needs a dog.
I’ve learned that if you love a dog long enough, you will lose them. It will hurt, but it teaches you that loving is worth the losing. It teaches you that feeling grief just means you once felt love—deep love.
So yeah, every girl needs a dog to teach them responsibility and all that good stuff.
But every girl needs a dog so they can learn to love.