3 Lessons I Learned About Life From Raising My Dog

Scooby, I know you can’t read this but I will read it to you later.

Over the first six months, we have been together, we have experienced breakups, new relationships, more breakups, extraordinary luck and our lives being permanently changed, fleeing from one house to moving into our first place together. From the day we met, you have never left my side. You have taught me many lessons and I know you will teach me many more. I feel though, that I should share these lessons with you, the reader.

1. Always find time to play and have fun (even when it is time for bed)

Since the day we met, you have always wanted to play. I requested that the handler bring some toys in for you so you and I could bond. The day you were brought home, you had a Red Dragon squeaky toy that you ended up eating. Now, your favorite thing is to run around the apartment at 11 p.m. with a squeaky toy in your mouth, squeaking away and fetching it. Usually, when I crawl into bed, you jump up and think I want to play so you start playfully trying to bite my hands until I tell you to go to bed.

As I live this busy, extraordinary life, it is easy to slip into a pattern. Go to school, go to work and have no time for personal time or any fun in general. Through raising you, I have learned I have to set aside time to play with you, train you and guide you. In turn, I have learned I have to set aside time for myself to wind down and relax instead of always being on the go.

2. Listen to those that matter

The thing with raising a German Shepherd is, they are extremely intelligent dogs. That being said, they may have many owners or people around in their family unit, but they will only really listen to one person. You, Scooby, have exhibited that to a T. Other family members can tell you to sit/stay and you will obey, but that is about the extent. When I communicate with you, you have proven time and time again that I am the only person you truly listen to, and that is what matters.

When it comes to everyday life, I constantly have people telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. But only a few opinions matter, and even fewer I listen to. Just like you, I listen to my own father’s advice. It is true, dads do know best.

3. “Now Dad, this is a very sensitive subject”

Will Smith captures what fatherhood truly is in his hit “Just The Two Of Us.” It was the song my dad played for me, and, it was the song I played for you. I vividly remember the handler at the shelter told me “He needs a strong leader,” and like most parents, I knew I could do it, but there was some doubt.

It is a full-time job to be a good, Dad. Letting you out, feeding you, playing with you, taking you to the vet, taking you to play with other dogs, training you and teaching you right vs. wrong and teaching you how to make your own decisions takes a lot of time. I wouldn’t trade the world for it.

When becoming a true dog-parent, it is similar to becoming an actual parent. A puppy will wake you up when it wants or needs something. A puppy also struggles to communicate, but they do learn. They are constantly getting into things they shouldn’t (like that one time Scooby ate my Ps4 and my Wii controllers), but the companionship is beyond comprehension.

I have become a better person because of the responsibility that comes with raising a dog. I always promised myself, and Scooby, that I would give him a life he deserved after the life he left behind.

Scooby, I know you are currently sleeping while cuddling with your Chewbacca and your Darth Vader squeaky toys, but I hope you understand how much you mean to me. From the day you were brought home, I promised to give you everything I could in life. I swore I would never give you up, or give you away, no matter how rough it got. I will wrap this letter up with the words of Will Smith.

"You are living proof that dreams come true. I love you, and I am here for you."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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