Four years ago, my family decided to get a dog. To make a long-ish story short, we found a shelter 20 minutes away, looked at the different dogs, and found the one for us.
One week later, our new dog, Delilah, was brought to her forever home.
I'll say now that it was not easy at first. Delilah was a rescue who had clearly been abused and/or mistreated in her past. It was heartbreaking to watch her unease around people, how afraid she was to be alone at first, how anxious she was over so many things. It was so, so hard to see how she was terrified of stairs, our clearest indicator someone had hurt her.
It infuriated us that someone could abuse such a sweet, innocent being.
But she got braver and stronger over time. Delilah learned to trust and love us as we loved her. She trusted me to help her get over her fear of stairs. She learned that we weren't going to hurt her. She met and befriended other dogs, which helped her become a more social creature.
This is Luna, her best friend!
Delilah wasn't that big on toys at first. Her first and forever favorites have been tennis balls, which are now like her doggy pacifier.
Yes, she's half asleep here!
Watching this fearful, anxious pup grow into a happy, more relaxed dog has been the most heartwarming thing over the last four years.
It was amazing to see what love and good treatment could do.
The biggest change was in how she physically interacted with us. Delilah was NOT (and still really isn't) a cuddler dog, and was very skittish about even one-armed hugs. Now, she's learned that hugs and snuggles are how we humans show our affection to her. She's learned to be okay with it, but will also make it clear when she's just not in the mood for snuggles.
I can easily say that adopting Delilah was the best decision my family ever made.
It's so weird now to think about the time before we had a dog. We've all grown so used to Delilah being around - and her fur everywhere. (The level at which she sheds is actually insane sometimes.) It's hard to remember what mealtimes were like before there was a furry face eyeing our food, or what it was like to come home and not have a furry butt wiggling furiously as its owner happily greets us at the door.
I can't imagine how different my life would be without my dog.
I've spent countless mornings on the front step, coffee and book in hand while Delilah happily runs around the front yard sniffing everything. Over the years, that's become a ritual between me and my dog. She's figured out all the different signs of me making my coffee - the sound of the Keurig, the mug I always use, the sugar container opening, a spoon clinking in my mug - and will walk up, eyes big, just waiting for me to turn to her and say, "Ready to go outside?"
What I see every time I make coffee
Coming home to her wiggly butt and doggy kisses, even if I've only been gone five minutes, never fails to make me smile. It's the pure happiness, the pure reaction of "I missed you and now you're home!!" that warms my heart. I could be in a terrible mood, but once I open the front door to Delilah's happy face, it all goes away.
Having a dog also is an instant bonder. I've had whole discussions with people I've just met, discussing doggy things and showing pics of our dogs to each other. My boyfriend, also a doggy parent, and I send funny dog videos and cute dog pics back and forth, and my mom and I constantly tag each other in dog videos on Facebook.
Eating is no longer a solitary activity. When I eat breakfast, Delilah will be firmly planted on my left as she waits for waffle crusts. She runs around to everyone during mealtimes, especially when meat or fish is involved, and put on the most pathetic, wide-eyed begging face you've ever seen. And if you're eating chips, pretzels or popcorn? Forget it. She loves the crunchy snacks.
Every. Single. Time.
Oh, and my camera roll? Pretty sure it's 90% pics of my dog, with a good chunk of that being pics of her sleeping. It's just too cute.
She loves sunbathing. It's like she's a cat.
I could go on and on. Getting a dog has just changed so much.
Bringing home our sweet furbaby was the best thing my family ever did, hands down. I mean, just look at that face!!