I've always loved animals, especially dogs, so when someone posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to take over her dog walking for the summer I jumped on the opportunity. I thought this would be an amazing experience for me. Not only would I get to see dogs everyday of the week, I'd also get a nice motivation to exercise. I didn't realize when I signed up to dog walk that they would teach me so much.

There's two dogs that I take care of; one is Olivia and the other is Jaxson. Olivia is a French Bulldog mixed with Boston Terrier and Jaxson is a Pitbull mix. I've only had small dog so when I first start walking Jaxson it was an experience to say the least. He would pull me through West Chester totally disregarding possible cars that could hit him or people trying to walk on the sidewalk. It took me probably two weeks to finally get the hang of walking a dog who's so strong.

By week three, I had gotten so much stronger that I had the confidence to walk him in the town I live by. I learned different ways to walk with him and to avoid possible triggers that could upset him since he didn't always like other dogs. I had to look up ways to walk strong dogs and get advice from people who saw Jaxson getting aggressive on how to fix his behavior.

In the short time I have been walking taking care of these dogs it has made me realize that they are a test run for future children. Have you ever seen a child throwing a fit in the middle of a restaurant or store; well Jaxson used to do that in the middle of town with so many people watching. I had to learn how to respond well to his "meltdowns" as I called it. Have you ever seen a kid argue with their parents or mess with them in public? I know it's hard to believe since a dog can't talk but I swear this dogs finds it funny to embarrass me in public. This made me learn how to respond to being embarrassed in public by something out of my control. This also showed me that people want to help when they see someone struggle and there are lots of resources on how to fix behaviors. I hope will be the same when I eventually am a mom if I am struggle with my future children.

Olivia has taught me a lot of things also. She has a medical condition that makes her blood sugar unstable. This causes her to lean or fall sometimes when she hasn't been fed recently. I learned how to control being upset when the animal I care for doesn't always have a good day because she would get more upset if I was sad. I learned messes happen; sometimes Olivia has accidents because she drinks more water than normal with her condition.

You can obviously tell the poor dog is upset by what happened and she didn't mean to do it on purpose. Which is exactly how kids act, they don't always mean to cause messes sometimes things just happen. Another thing I was taught by Olivia, was how to handle jealousy. I can't walk her when I walk Jaxson because of her state so she would get upset that she was left out. I had to learn to switch things up from what I first started out. I would give Olivia a lot of attention before walks and when I got back from walks; this helped her not be so upset with me.

Even though I was just dog walking; these dogs have taught me so much. Not only are they a constant smiling face when I see them to brighten my day. They have taught me not to be scared to be a mother in the future and that I can handle a lot more than I thought I could. This is why I would suggest dog walking to anyone if you can't have your own pets at the place you live.

Jaxson pouting because I couldn't walk him that day.

Caroline Domingue