With the pandemic dragging on in 2021, in ways it was tougher than 2020. There is a certain feeling of endlessness, along with anxiety and depression that goes along with it. New studies suggest the mental health fallout from the pandemic will have lasting and unknown effects. One thing that was constant for many of us; our dogs. Here are 10 ways our dogs saved us in 2021.
1. Our Dogs Keep Us Present
For so many of our days and so much of our time, we humans run around like our heads are cut off. Frantic. Going from one activity to another, blindly forging through our days with little thought to the present moment. We all know this is not a healthy way to live. By constantly moving from one thing to another and always thinking of the next thing on the list, we barely get a chance to savor and enjoy those special moments.
Our dogs have it figured out though. All they know is how to live in the moment. I’m sure (or I really hope) you’ve enjoyed a few moments just sitting quietly with your dog, enjoying her presence. Even just sitting a few moments a day, calmly petting your dog, enjoying your walk and letting her sniff, or being mindful with your dog will change your perspective and help you slow down. Oue dogs saved us by helping us be more present.
2. Our Dogs Saved Us by Keeping Us Active
If you have a dog you walk her. No excuses. That’s pretty much a given when you sign on for dog ownership. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of heart-pounding exercise (that’s 2.5 hours) each week. Totally doable, especially if you have an active dog.
For many of us, a good brisk walk provides some heart-pounding exercise, so you don’t need to feel like you should be training for a marathon. Walks are so special and necessary for our dogs-it’s how they navigate and see their world. Imagine that you are stuck around the house for most of the day. That’s your dog. She really looks forward to her walk, even when it’s cold or undesirable outside. Help yourself and help your dog; take that walk each day! Our dogs saved us by keeping us moving!
3. Our Dogs May Help Us Eat Better
I realize that I may be reaching here. Hear me out. When I fell down this rabbithole of dog food knowledge, I began to learn about my own food and the nasties that lurk in our factory-farmed, mass-produced, overly-processed cusine. I honestly credit my own knowledge and understanding of the pet food industry to helping me clean up my own diet.
The book Feeding Dogs by Irish veterinarian, Dr. Conor Brady led me to read How Not to Die (about our own food sources). In turn, that led me to incorporating more organic, cleaner and more natural foods in my diet too. Personally, I believe that if you pay any attention to what your dog is eating, then chances are that you care about the foods you put in your body too. In that way, dogs saved us by helping many of us clean up our diets.
4. Dogs Provide Hours of Entertainment
All you have to do is google funny dogs and you’ll be presented with millions of videos, pictures, and clips of hilarious canines. If you live with a dog, then you know when they’re not napping, they live to entertain you whether it’s intentional or not.
Dogs saved us by entertaining us learning new tricks, insisting on playtime (for some hours a day), helping us learn a new team effort like scent-work or agility, or even inspiring us to learn how to prepare healthy meals for them. If I had to make a bet, I’d venture to guess your camera roll has more pictures of your dog being silly or cute than anything else.
5. Our Dogs Helped Us Be More Social
I like to call dogs the great equalizer. Generally, I’m a relatively introverted person, but I love to talk to people about their dogs. Think about how easy it is to approach a stranger and tell them what a cute dog they have or ask to pet their dog. Alternatively, think about how easy it is for that stranger to potentially give you their dog’s whole life story (whether you asked or not).
There’s a reason your single friends want to borrow a puppy to take to the park, it works! There are many dog people in this world, and chances are if they’re without their dog, or have a friendly dog, they will approach you or welcome your approach when it has anything to do with a dog. During the pandemic over the last year, I welcomed meeting new dogs and conversing with their humans about their food and backgrounds.
6. Dogs Helped the Economy
I subscribe to a pet food industry newsletter, so this is all the buzz. Our dogs saved us by stimulating the economy, and they’ll continue to do so in 2022.
Morgan Stanley forecasts that pet industry spending will balloon to $275 Billion by 2030 (that’s triple what it is now) and current spending trends show no sign of slowing. Additionally, Millenials and Gen Z pet owners are spending more on their pets, as pets have gained a higher status in households. Average spending is around $980 per year, and is predicted to increase to $1292 by 2025 and $1909 by 2030 according to Morgan Stanley.
Of course, this was unknowingly on our dogs’ part, but kudos to our dogs for their assistance in bolstering the US economy!
7. Our Dogs Saved Us by Keeping Things in Perspective
Hopefully, if your dog had a motto, it would be “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Of course, I know that some of our dogs are nervous or anxious, but in the scheme of things all they really care about is getting enough rest, enough play and interaction, enough love, having delicious food in their bellies, and spending time with their humans.
Sometimes, I laugh because I feel that our dogs have it figured out. They watch us scurry around, rush to work so that we can pay for all of our “stuff”, all the while probably thinking we look like fools for being so worried about what others think. Obviously, there’s more to it, but our dogs remind us to take it easy sometimes and just enjoy the moment.
8. Dogs Kept Us On a Healthy Routine
I don’t know about you, but I thrive on a routine. Boring, yes. But so necessary for peace and productivity in my life. If I wake up and eat a donut, my eating is often thrown off for the full day. I struggle to imagine what my life would look like without some type of structure or daily routine.
Our dogs saved us by keeping us to a routine. Theirs! Does your dog wake you up each day for breakfast? Perhaps your dog waits for you to get up. I bet it’s not going to be long before she eats and you get to that AM routine. Maybe a walk before work? Perhaps, a walk afer work, or both. When I’m at home during the day, Wally starts bugging out for his walk and supper around 3:00 PM. A little annoying, yes. However, I am always impressed with his ability to tell time without the ability to read a clock.
9. Dogs Showed Us How to Manage Our Time Better
In addition to keeping us on a routine, our dogs saved us by helping us to manage our time better. Yes, some days that means you need to nap and recharge for much of the day. Be kind to yourself for that! You don’t have all day to scroll social, there’s playing to be done, walks to be taken, and meals to prep!
Admittedly, our dogs aren’t the best at time management (unless you count napping and playing as time management), but they do help us understand the most important and basic parts of each day! Rest, play, eat, repeat!
10. Our Faithful, Unwavering Companions
And finally, our dogs saved us by being our faithful, unwavering companions. Your dog will always be your champion. Your dog will always have your back and be your number one fan. Dogs have achieved unconditional love, and even if it’s just a small cue, we can learn to be forgiving, patient, and kind to others.
Sometimes, it’s not too hard for life to get you down. When you have a strong connection with your dog though, those times are hopefully few and far between. Dogs saved us by just appreciating us for who we are. If you’ve ever heard that quote, “Be the person your dog thinks you are”, then you know it’s not too hard to be a superhero, even if it’s just in your dog’s eyes. And sometimes that’s enough.