My Greatest Form Of Self-Care: Owning A Dog
Start writing a post

My Greatest Form Of Self-Care: Owning A Dog

I never realized just how much my dog would make me want to take care of myself, too.

My Greatest Form Of Self-Care: Owning A Dog
Makayla Bush

Recently in one of my writing courses, my professor asked us to write a one-page vignette on self-care, or what we considered to most help us ease our anxieties. I spent a lot of time pondering on the topic. Self-care is pretty widely discussed these days, as many people move toward eliminating the negative stigma around mental health and self-love. I first tried to think of all the small things I do to make me feel like I'm taking care of myself physically, mentally, or emotionally, like working out, going on walks, face masks, doing my nails, painting, or cleaning.

But none of these really seemed to fulfill the prompt. These are hobbies, maybe, things I choose to do in my free time or things that just help me think a little more clearly. What makes me feel fulfilled? What makes me feel capable? Because I struggle with depression and anxiety, these are questions I began to ask myself. Hobbies are purely distractions, so what is it that helps me on a deeper level? What makes me feel okay?

"You can't love anyone until you learn to love yourself," the quote read. It floated around 2013 Tumblr a lot. It was in every girl's Instagram bio in middle school. And as completely cliché and stupid as it may sound, that line has lived in the back of my mind for a long time. I always thought it was about romance and wondered if it were true – that you really couldn't love someone else with every fiber of your being until you are first happy with your own self. I never took it very seriously, but I did ponder on it quite a bit, as someone with a lot of self-loathing.

Why did this stick out in my mind? The person I probably love more than anyone in this world is my boyfriend, Jeremy, and my own self-hatred never seemed to get in the way of that. When I couldn't be my best self, he was okay. He's always been self-sufficient and never needed anyone to take care of him, so I could wallow in self-pity in peace.

As someone who has been battling mental illness for a while now, learning to adjust and be able to take care of myself at my lows has been one of the hardest parts. For months, I would wake up in the morning and have to convince myself that getting out of bed was worth it.

But finally, the quote made sense about six weeks ago, when I brought home a puppy, a border collie-Boston terrier mix. Iroh, my boyfriend named him, like Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The very first night home, he woke me at 5:46 a.m. because he had gotten out of bed and wandered into the closet in the dark, unable to find his way out. That was the fastest I'd found myself getting out of bed in what seemed like years. This trend has continued for nearly three weeks: Iroh wakes me up whining in the mornings, and I quickly jump out of bed to check on him. He's always so excited to start his day, and I guess that makes me excited, too.

Every night, he falls asleep on the couch or in his bed next to us, and it reminds me of just how long the day feels, and it serves as a reminder that maybe I should get to bed. It's best I get to sleep so I can be alert for Iroh the next morning.

There are no more long drives by myself where I sit and think about everything wrong with my life. When Jeremy can't go, I bring Iroh. He sits in his bed and gnaws on his toys or sleeps or sometimes just cuddles up to my hand when I reach over to check on him. Iroh likes to listen to the radio, too, just like I do.

When Iroh became old enough to take for vaccines and be given his de-wormer and flea pills, I made sure everything was on time. I want him to be as happy and healthy as possible, and I began to think that maybe he would want me to be, too. I dusted off the prescription bottles that sit on my bathroom shelf.

Boredom no longer eats me alive because Iroh is there to play and go on walks, and I begin my days motivated to get my work done as soon as possible so I can spend more time entertaining him.

Seeing Jeremy lay asleep on the couch with the dog wrapped around his arm, curled up on his stomach, or snuggled up to his side brings me more peace than I have felt in three years. Knowing that the best sense of self-care for me is inspired by my caring for others just makes the most sense to me, and it makes the daily fight with myself more bearable.

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

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less
Dating Apps

We Met At A Bar

Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.

We Met At A Bar
Anne Waldon

We met at a bar.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Mets And Me

They may be the worst sometimes, but this baseball team has given me more than I could ask for.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On September 3rd, 2001, a sea of children littered my home's navy-carpeted den to watch baseball during my dad's 40th birthday extravaganza. A baseball game flickered on the TV, and a red and blue bubble of a scoreboard sat in the bottom right corner of the screen. The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies were in a wild game at Veterans' Stadium. As I, a five-year-old boy with a jumble of curly blonde hair, sat in the back of the kid clump, I wondered which team I should root for. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I should root for the team that's winning (duh). But, as the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils maintaining a 7-5 lead, some magic occurred. The Mets put up five runs in one frame, stunning the Phillie fans in the room and winning the game 10-7.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments