7 Things I Learned From My Shelter Dog

7) Taking care of another living creature makes you want to take care of yourself

Being one of the millions that suffer from depression, I tend to neglect so many of my basic human needs. When depression is at its finest it’s like a wave that washes over, and makes me doubt everything. Everything I know about myself, and what I stand for, falls into a deep sadness. Before I adopted Bentley (a 75lb Bernese Mountain, Border Collie mix) I would stay in my apartment for days at a time, only opening the door for delivery personnel, who would come to know me by name. Sometimes not seeing the sun for three or four days at a time. When I adopted Bentley that all changed. He needed to go for walks, or at least outside to do his business. He needed love, and some resemblance of a routine. When I gave him that, I started remembering I’m a human who needs a social life, and to believe in her passions again. He reminds me that I am worthy of a better life.

6) You can heal from your trauma

I’ve experienced things in my life that have made my heart harder, and my trust almost non existent. I thought that I would be jaded and hurt forever, until I met Bentley. When he entered my home he would flinch in I moved too fast, or tried to kiss his face. He had scars from the family that had hurt him in the past. Remarkably, he learned to trust again. I took my time showing him that I would never hurt him, and eventually he started to trust me. He learned that there was still love in the world, and I learned that it’s never too late to heal.

5) Cuddles are a necessity

This should be a given, but puppy cuddles are the absolute best! I had been living on my own for about two years when Bentley came into my life, and I didn’t realize how much I missed daily contact. When I’m sad, sick, or crampy, there he is. His smiling face eager to cuddle in and let our worries melt away.

4) Life needs more laughter

Bentley has this wonderful habit of being a goofball. We will be hanging in my room, and he’ll get this burst of energy that springs him into action. All of a sudden he’s running from room to room, nudging me with his nose, because he needs to make sure I’m paying attention to the spectacle. It makes me laugh till my sides ache.

3) You can say I love you without saying a word

Any pet owner knows this to be true. A few dog kisses, or a nudge from a furry nose, just so you know that they love you. Their eyes say it all: thank you, I’m always here, I love you no matter what.

2) You can’t control everything

All pet owners learn this universal truth pretty early on. There will be accidents in the house, trash toppled over, and something devoured by sharp teeth. It gets to a point when you realize, you can’t always control what your pet is going to do. You can train them, give them love, take them out ten times a day, and still not be able to control all of their actions. The beauty of it, is you start to realize there’s very little in life you control. Once you release the idea of constant control, there is a relief that translates to pure joy.

1) When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go, is up

I sometimes wonder what Bentley went through to get to me. Who hit him? How long was he hungry (he was skin and bones when I got him)? What did he see along the way?

What I know is that he has found bliss in a family that adores him. He’s surrounded by dog grandparents that spoil him rotten, friends who dote on his every move, and a dog Mom that wouldn’t trade him for the world. He may have been at his lowest in that shelter, but he went up and found his forever home.

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