5 Ways That My Dog Saved Me

Simple steps to a healthier you-3

When I adopted Jackson, I was not in the worst point of my life. But I also was not nearly close enough to being in a good point. I was lonely, I was lost, and I needed something.

For years during college, I had tried to find that something through people pleasing, being a fun and well-liked person, and some things that definitely were not healthy for me. So, as most 20-something aged girls do, I went on the search to adopt a puppy. Yep, a puppy. I was going to take the big leap, even though my apartment at the time didn’t technically allow dogs (oops!).

After weeks of searching online and at PetSmart, a woman from my hometown posted a photo of a sad-eyed dog on Facebook. The moment I saw the image of that dog, I messaged her to ask if someone had requested to adopt him yet. When she said no, I sent “I want him”. There was no doubt in my mind this dog was for me. Read more about this story by clicking here.

And although Jackson came with his fair share of problems — he has suffered abuse so he struggles with humans and other animals at times — he has been one of the best things to happen in my life thus far.

With that said, here are five ways that my dog saved me:

When I want to lay in bed, he makes me get up.

When you don’t own a dog, getting out of bed (on the weekend, anyways) is an option. Ask any of my old college roommates and they will tell you that there were days I wouldn’t emerge from my room until midday. When you don’t own a dog, you can wake up and turn on Netflix. You can spend hours binge-watching TV and putting off any of the things that you need to do.

But when you own a dog, he has to pee. And after he relieves himself, he has to eat and drink water. He also has to exercise. He needs love. And from what I have found, they can be excessively needy so they refuse to let you stay in bed.

Owning a dog makes you get out of bed on days that you want nothing more than to stay there.

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When I want to lock myself away indoors, he makes me go outside.

On sunny days, there are still moments when we do not want to step foot outside. We all have days when we want to lay on the couch and waste the day away — once again, we want to binge watch Netflix. Okay, maybe I just have a problem with watching way too much Netflix!

Anyways, owning a dog makes you go outside. Not only does the dog need to go outside to use the bathroom, but he also needs exercise. And if you don’t truly consider exercise for your dog, you will have a strong desire to take them outside when you see them staring outside from the window.

When I want to cry, he makes me smile.

Do you have those moments where you just lay in your floor and cry for what feels like hours? Well, when you own a dog, that’s no longer such a problem!

If you lay in the floor, you are going to be licked. No questions asked.

If you are crying, dogs actually tend to have a sense that you’re upset. Often, they will bring you their toy. This isn’t actually them wanting to play for their own personal happiness; they bring you their toy because they want you to be play and be happy.

When you have a creature that loves you that much, there is no possible way you can sit and cry for hours.

On your worst day, a dog will make you smile.

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When everyone else cares about what you said or did, he doesn’t.

When someone is upset with you or when people are judging you, your dog doesn’t care. Your dog will never judge you. Your dog will never be upset with you… okay, he may be upset with you but it will only last for like 5 seconds max. Seriously, dogs — or at least my dog — have terrible attention spans.

The point is: your dog doesn’t care what you did wrong. Your dog doesn’t care if you said something that was perceived negatively, or if you fail a test, or if you dye your hair six different colors. Your dog still loves you, no matter what.

When it feels like you are alone, he is there.

On days that it feels like everyone has left you or that no one cares for you, your dog will be standing there, bright-eyed and wagging his tail. Your dog will always be jumping happily when you walk through the front door.

Honestly, you can’t get away from your dog! Seriously. My dog follows me into the bathroom.

You’ll never be alone again.

Shelter Intake Vs. Euthanizations

“People that say money can’t buy happiness has clearly never paid an adoption fee.”

-Unknown

According to the ASCPA, nearly 6.5 million animals arrive at various community animal shelters nationwide.

6.5 million. Consider the magnitude of that number for a moment – that’s more than the population of Texas (estimated at 28.3 million).

The three most common reasons why these animals enter shelters include:

  1. Stray animals: Often times, you’ll notice a dog lurking around a populated area, or even cats/kittens in your neighborhood. These animals are considered strays and are brought in by citizens and local law authorities. If you see a stray animal, it is important to call your local humane society to have them cared for.
  2. Animals that have been rescued from cruelty:Dog fighting rings, puppy mills, and simply abusive or neglectful homes all fall into this category. Animals that come from this category often experience a lot of trauma that can include mental and physical problems.
  3. Surrendered animals:These are animals that a person has purchased or adopted, but are no longer to care for.

Animal shelters, nationwide, have a massive amount of animals coming in each year. Considering the large number, we can understand why it is so difficult for them to find a home for each animal.

And sadly, many don’t find a home. According to the ASCPA, nearly 1.5 million animals are euthanized each year – that’s about the population of Rhode Island.

So, let’s summarize: The population of Texas is entering animal shelters each year and the population of Rhode Island is being euthanized from that because they were not placed in a home.

Why are so many animals being euthanized?

Too many people are still not adopting animals. It’s so important that we, as people who have this knowledge, share about adoption.

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Share your story.

Share the statistics.

Share that owning a mutt is wonderful.

Share about adoption benefits.

Whatever you do, just spread the word to #AdoptDontShop! Let’s continue to fight the good fight and reduce the amount of euthanized animals in shelters. Let’s get that number lower than the population of Wyoming (estimated at 577, 737).

Adopt, Don’t Shop

“You won’t change the world by saving an animal, but you will change that animal’s world.” – Unknown

My social media accounts have been flooded with adorable photos and videos of my dog, Jackson. If you have read about Jackson in my previous blog post, “Who Rescued Who?”, then you already know a bit about him. However, for those of you who do not know the story, I adopted Jackson in February of 2018. He had been abandoned in Eastern Kentucky and needed a home. Luckily, at that same time, I needed a four-legged best friend!

If you truly know me, you know that I can be a passionate person. I feel strongly about specific things. One of my passions has become centered around animals. Even as a child, I loved animals. Fun fact: I used to rescue worms off the hot sidewalks in the summer. However, my love for animals didn’t truly become a passion until I had spent a few months with Jackson.

For those of you who have never rescued a pet before, allow me to warn you that it isn’t always butterflies and rainbows. In fact, it is difficult. When I first adopted Jackson, he would barely let me touch him, he was afraid of people, he was aggressive to other animals, and he would go on hunger strikes. However, it is totally worth it once you begin to see the changes that you can make in an innocent animal. Six months later, Jackson is an entirely different dog than when he first came home with me. Of course, there are still some challenges that we are working through, but he has made so many positive changes. Honestly, it makes my heart feel overwhelmed with joy to consider where he has been and where has ended up.

I wanted to write this blog post to share with people the difference that saving an animal can do; not only for the animal, but for you as well!

You will watch them grow.

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The day I adopted Jackson, I remember noticing how skinny he was. Since he had been abandoned, I had assumed that he could be malnourished, but it is completely different when you see it first-hand. As I held him on my lap on the drive home, I could feel his ribs. It was heartbreaking. However, six months later, Jackson has gained a good amount of weight and he is strong. He now has the pleasure of never being afraid that he will not eat anytime soon.

You will watch them begin to trust again.

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In Jackson’s case, he was very wary around new people. He would barely let me touch him at first and now I cannot keep him away from me (a good problem). Also, he would not even let my best friend come in the same room as him. He would become aggressive. It did not take long to realize that he showed aggression towards men, so I assumed he may have been mistreated by a man. As time went on, Jackson has begun to trust people, even men, again. He still gets anxious if he is overcrowded by people, but he is doing much better now.

You will watch them get comfortable.

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When you first adopt a pet, they may show signs of being uncomfortable. Jackson would not sleep on the bed, even though he was allowed. For weeks, he slept on the floor beside my bed. Eventually, he began to sleep on the edge of it. Now, he basically sleeps right on top of me. He has made my home his home. One of the best moments you will experience is when your pet finally sleeps next to you.

You will watch their personality explode.

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After the initial adoption, a pet may feel uneasy and not show much personality. Jackson didn’t even play with toys the first couple of days. However, as time goes on, you will find that your pet has such a vibrant personality. If Jackson isn’t “talking” to me, he’s tossing his toys around the house. A bonus is that they can make hilarious faces, too!

They will become your best friend.

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Jackson and I have been through a lot together over the past six months. He’s been on all of my hiking trips, he’s made me laugh when I wanted to cry, and he has always been there greet me when I come home. Choosing to adopt a pet will be the best decision of your life. If you find that you have the opportunity, the time, and the financial ability to adopt, I would urge you to do so!

Follow my Instagram to talk dogs or to see photos of Jackson!

#WhyAdoptWednesday

My passion for animals began… well, there is not an exact date. Honestly, I have always had a passion for animals. My first dog, Poz (yes, that’s how my four-year old self spelled it), was the beginning of a never-ending line of pets. All of the dogs that I have owned have been adopted, and I have loved the beautiful stories and funny personalities that each of them has brought into my life.

If you follow my Instagram account, you know that I am obsessed with my dog, Jackson (read Jackson’s story by clicking here). If you don’t follow my Instagram, what are you waiting for? I make uplifting posts daily and you even get to see adorable animal photos!

My Instagram account is actually what has inspired me to write this blog post. Every Wednesday I do something called #WhyAdoptWednesday. While this began as me posting photos of Jackson and sharing my personal opinion about why you should adopt, I have begun to rethink this idea. Instead of posting my own thoughts and photos, I have been encouraging people to send me photos of their pets with stories attached.

Personally, I think it’s an awesome idea! Not only does this allow people to show off their pets (and we all know how much people love their pets – they’re family), but it also brings attention to the notion of #AdoptDontShop.

If you aren’t convinced yet, let me take this idea one step further. Yes, people know that adopting animals is important. However, I am not sure if everyone knows the prevalence of shelter animals that are euthanized each year. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what the statistics were, but after some time researching, I was absolutely shocked!

Take a look!

U.S. Animal Shelter and Adoption Statistics

6.5 million animals enter animal shelters in the United States each year. 3.3 million are

dogs and 3.2 million are cats. Of those 6.5 million, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. To break that down a bit, 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats are put down each year.

According to ASPCA, the number of euthanized animals has decreased from 2.6 million
since 2011. This decline has been influenced by the increased percentage of pet adoptions! 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year! Let’s break that down as well. 1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats are adopted each year.

That’s great, right? We have started to adopt more and more animals each year! Honestly, I cannot tell you how happy I was when I read that euthanizations have decreased by 2.6 million pets since 2011. The idea that humans kill innocent animals simply because we don’t have room for them and no one wants them is truly heartbreaking.

What Can YOU Do?

  • Adopt:If you have been searching for a “furrever” friend, visit your local PetSmart, Humane Society, and animal shelters. Find a sweet, innocent little animal who risks being put down simply because no one wants him or her.
  • Raise Awareness: Share information about pet adoption. For example, PetSmart does National Adoption Weekends multiple times throughout the year. During these weekends, thousands of pets are adopted. Share about these adoption weekends on social media. Actually, PetSmart is hosting a National Adoption Weekend this weekend (November 9-11, 2018).
  • Volunteer:If your schedule isn’t too busy, take some time volunteering at your local animal shelter! Or provide items to local animal shelters. Trust me, they can use all the help that they can get.

Share Your Story

If you want to share your pet adoption story and help raise even more awareness for adoption, contact me! I would absolutely love to feature you on my account. You can contact me on Facebook, Instagram, or email me at whatawonderfulllife606@gmail.com.

If you have a very heart-warming and lengthy story, I would even love for you to write a featured blog post on It’s a Wonder{FULL} Life. I have actually done this in a previous post, and I absolutely loved it! My goal for #WhyAdoptWednesday is to share my account, provide beautiful pet adoption stories with my followers and readers, and to continue to help raise awareness about the importance of pet adoption.

Resources

https://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics

Rags to Riches

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If you follow my Instagram account, you probably already know how much I love my 32-pound mutt. If you don’t follow me, then what are waiting for?!

Anyways, I wanted to take a moment to share Jackson’s full story with you. Many of you have heard bits and pieces, but his incredible story is one that needs to be told. So, get ready to cry… no, I’m totally kidding. But his story is super cute.

Abandoned

In late January of 2017, this pup was dropped off in the cold weather. We are no confident in how long he survived on his own, but by the time he was found, you could see his ribs.

A woman found him abandoned on top of a coal mine. If you know about weather in Eastern Kentucky, you know that the months of January and February are absolutely frigid. Honestly, I am not sure how he lasted in the cold for as long as he did.

One thing I do know for certain is that he had a difficult life before he was rescued. Jackson presents of issues that could be associated with previous abuse.

Adopted

When this photo was taken, Jackson had been living with me for nearly a week. He was taken care of, he had a warm bed to sleep in, he received a lot of love, and he never had to worry about when he would get his next meal. However, you can tell by the look on his face that he was still completely terrified.

I would love to write this and tell you that Jackson warmed up to me immediately, but that would be a lie. Actually, it took a couple of weeks before he began to feel more comfortable with me.

As I mentioned, his behavior has indicated signs of abuse. When I first adopted him, he would growl at any man that came near him. Thus, causing me to believe that he was abused by a man at some point.

Even today, if there are too many people surrounding him, he becomes defensive and growls. It has been a long process, but he’s getting better at trusting the people I bring around him.

My whole point from this portion of the story is that although the adoption process was easy – I adopted him within less than one week – the adjustment process was anything but easy. Those first couple of weeks were full of nervous shaking, hunger strikes, and growling at the people in my life. But oh my, was it worth it!

Companionship

By the time Jackson and I took this photo, all of his fear regarding my friends and I had disappeared. He and I were truly discovering companionship.

We spent morning runs at a trail on campus, we went on hiking trips (as pictured here), we learned new tricks, and of course, we played with plenty of toys at home. Jackson’s personality had truly become more vibrant and he was beginning to reach his full potential as a loveable, adventurous dog.

While Jackson was experiencing a positive change, I was too. I had adopted Jackson because I was seeking companionship. Why not adopt a dog? After all, they do say that dogs are man’s best friend. It seemed like the perfect idea! And I was right.

Jackson had already begun to help me feel better on days that were tough, he made me smile even if I wanted to cry, and he always sits next to me if he knows that I’m feeling down. When this companionship began to form, I truly had to ask the question: Who rescued who?

Registration

This photo was taken on the day that Jackson and I moved into a new apartment. This was also taken just weeks before I registered him as my Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

As I mentioned, Jackson had already helped me cope with my problems tremendously. When I moved into my new apartment complex, I discovered that you could only have a pet if they were an ESA. Due to this, I thought that it would be worth it to pay my doctor a visit. After doing this, Jackson was officially approved as my ESA and was allowed to live in my apartment.

At the time, registering him as an ESA seemed superficial at best. Sure, he’d helped me, but I didn’t consider how much at that point.

Only recently have I truly considered just how helpful this small dog has been to me. I have endured a lot over the months that Jackson has been with me, and I know in my heart and in my mind that he has helped me handle it all. While I hadn’t given registering him as an ESA much thought, it is apparent to me now that he truly does help me emotionally. He helps me battle anxious moments, sad moments, and everything in between.

If you battle anxiety, depression, or anything else, I would highly recommend finding an ESA. They are very, very helpful! However, make sure that you do not get them confused with a Service Animal. ESA’s do not technically provide a service as they have not received training. ESA’s are allowed to live with you, even in a non-pet-friendly location, according to the Fair Housing Act.

Present Day

Today, Jackson and I are still going adventures and living our best lives. Actually, he will be traveling to Niagara Falls with my family and I this weekend.

This dog has added so much to my life, and I want to make sure that he lives the best possible life. He’ll only be in my life for a small portion of it, but I am his entire life.

Although he started literally from the bottom – freezing and alone at a coal mine – I will make sure that the remainder of his life is nothing short of wonder{full}.

As always, message me the adorable story about your pet! I would love to share your story on #WhyAdoptWednesday.