For the first time in my life, I've finally accomplished two important goals thanks to our dog, Jackson. I now rise before 6:00 am and exercise before work. When Jackson came into our lives, we had to re-work our schedules and make some changes. Sounds inconvenient, but it's just what we needed to make some healthy changes. I've tried getting up early over the years, but within a few days would fall back into snoozing my alarm way past 6:00 am. After getting Jackson, I now get up by 5:45am (sometimes earlier!). There's no snooze alarm on a young dog. They can be pretty persistent with their routine.
Jackson eats breakfast, I have my cup of coffee, and off we go on our morning walk. No lolligagging casual stroll for us; he's a young dog, he needs to move and move fast! That's when he does his business and the only opportunity to get some energy out and stretch his legs before he's in his kennel by 8:00 am as I go off to work.
This brings me to the second reason I am grateful for having Jackson. I have to come home for lunch which means I have to actually leave my desk and not run hectic lunchtime errands. Instead I get to come home to a quiet, peaceful house and enjoy lunch with my little buddy. I thought of this today while I was sitting and found myself serene and absorbed in reading something while Jackson got some chewing time in on a bone. I realized I'd been missing this golden opportunity during the day to relax and rejuvenate.
The other thing Jackson did for me was teach me a lesson about stereotypes and taking chances to think outside of the box. Jackson is an American Pit Bull Terrier mix. He was part of the Animal Humane Society's Project Pit Bull program. I had never thought of adopting a pit bull, but we just kind of ran into Jackson and fell in love. My husband knew right away he was the one so there was no turning back. I had to work through the anxiety of what others would think of us having a pit bull and the fear of whether he would be aggressive and destructive. After some research and reading books, I discovered how misunderstood the breed is and came to feel sorry for those dogs left behind because no one wanted a pit bull. Jackson is obedient, loving and actually submissive to other dogs. We took him to puppy play group right away at 3 months of age and he still goes almost every weekend playing with dogs of all shapes and sizes. He loves it! And it's pretty fun to watch. I am glad we took a chance and followed our heart, letting our path to a new dog take a wonderful turn.
Owning a dog, especially a puppy, is a lot of work. But it's so rewarding with what they can offer back to you. For me, these gifts came in different forms than what I originally thought, but ended up being more than I could have imagined. There are many other rewards of course - a great distraction and stress reliever, companionship, fun playtime, a nice warm cuddle buddy and a reason to get off your seat, start moving and get outside.
I am grateful to the Animal Humane Society for their support and many wonderful offers to assist us in being the best pet owners we can be. The training classes are great and puppy play group is a life saver for those with young dogs that need to get some energy out with other playmates.