I fell in love at the age of 23. The cute face, calm eyes, and adorable spots got me within minutes of meeting her. I had always planned on getting a dog at some point in my life, I just didn’t know when until it was actually happening. Ryder walked into our life and I knew that this was a match made in heaven. Little did I know, owning a dog in my twenties would be the best and worst thing ever. Here are just a few of the skills I have learned from owning a dog:
1. Financial planning for needs other than your own.
Owning a dog costs a lot more than I initially thought. In my mind I had worked everything out. I’d need to pay the adoption fee, initial supplies (toys, treats, leash, collar, crate), monthly food purchase and the occasional vet bill. Oh, how wrong I was. I hadn’t fully considered some factors when preparing to own a dog in an urban environment. Things like; dog walkers, pet sitters, more toys for when the pup inevitably destroys the first ones you bought her, doggy day care (yes, that’s a thing and it’s a lifesaver for energetic puppies), emergency vet bills, annual shots, poop baggies, Flea/Tick & Heartguard medication, and the ever random list of dog accouterments that I somehow convinced myself Ryder would need.
Within a few months, I learned that my spending would not hold up and I would need to make a plan in order to move forward and not be completely broke. I put off making this plan until our first emergency vet bill came in at $500. Things quickly changed. Now, I make a monthly spending plan for the dog which includes the usual spending ( like food and 1-2 toys as well as 1-2 days at doggy daycare a month) as well as putting away money for things like emergency vet visits, medicines, and pet sitting.
My mom will tell you again and again that money burns a hole in my pocket. And it’s true. I’ve slowly been learning how to manage my money and getting a puppy was definitely a huge wake-up call. It took a few months, but things are starting to balance out. It’s a skill all pet-owners have to learn and take with them through other stages of life.
2. How to schedule like a boss.
Schedules are like air to me. The idea of knowing where I should be, when I should be there and what I should be doing is the most calming thing in the world to me. I was quick to learn that raising a puppy is a lot about creating a schedule and sticking to it. I needed to adapt my schedule to now fit in a dog and the demands that come along with another life. After nailing down a morning routine (up at seven, dog out right away, feed, shower, get dressed, dog out again, crate, work) our lives became ten times easier. Our schedule has paid off because now Ryder heads to her crate as soon as I grab my car keys. WIN.
3. Balance and patience.
About a three month after we rescued Ryder, I found myself sitting on the floor of my bedroom in tears while the dog was chewing on yet another one of my socks. I had reached my point of extreme frustration. Why wouldn’t the dog listen to me? Why wouldn’t she settle down? And then it hit me: I had done nothing but devote my attention to this pup for the last 90 days. I had completely neglected to take time for myself and it was definitely showing.
Having balance in your life is something that every twenty-something could do to learn at some point in time. With a dog, it’s even more important. I learned that it was okay to go out and do things and it wasn’t the end of the world if I put the dog in the crate for a few hours on a Saturday so I could get out of the house and do things with friends. I didn’t need to bring her with me everywhere, no matter how cute she is.
4. Unconditional love.
To date, Ryder has destroyed the following: 32 socks, 7 pairs of underwear, 2 sneakers, 11, shoelaces, 3 flip flops, 1 remote, 1 debit card, 6 stuffed animals, 2 throw pillows, 4 blankets, 2 pet beds and 1 rug.
I look at her adorable face and am filled with so much love, despite the destruction. She’s a great dog. She’s smart and goofy and sassy as all get out. Sometimes I question if she actually loves me and Christina they way we love her. We’ve learned to read the signs of her love, like her insistence on hogging the entire bed at night. Or the way she brings us her favorite toy. We get upset with her from time to time, but she doesn’t hold a grudge. She doesn’t give us the silent treatment the way her human counterparts might.
We can all learn a thing or two from dogs about the true beauty loving someone unconditionally. That’s the most important lesson they can teach you in your twenties, and every other stage of life too.
Follow this goofy girl on Instagram @ryderthe_bordercollie_mix