How has my sweet boy made life more worth living? Let me count the ways… Hudson, this one is for you.
1. Unconditional Love – Of course, this comes first. I’ve heard stories of pets giving people a reason to live again or completely turn their lives around in the face of all odds. Now I get it. Whatever flaws I believe I might have, Hudson neither sees them nor cares. And conversely, he also doesn’t know or care that I was a world-traveling jazz musician or that I built my business from scratch. He simply loves me because I’m me, and it helps me to do the same.
2. Laughter – He makes me smile and laugh every day, all day. Like this time we watched him eat cheddar popcorn for 10 minutes straight:
3. Neighborhood – Never before have I met so many of my neighbors (and their dogs). Now when we walk around our neighborhood, I feel we’re in a community.
4. Sleep – I can’t explain it, but with Hudson on the pillow next to me, I sleep for longer and it’s much easier to fall back asleep when I do wake up in the middle of the night. I think he simply puts my mind at ease.
5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – I can’t believe how much less I worry since Hudson’s homecoming. Perhaps it’s because I’m too busy adoring him to sweat the “small stuff” or perhaps it’s because he’s helped put things into perspective: life is for exploring, learning, and playing. To spend it worrying would simply be a waste.
6. Friendships – My relationships with friends who are pet owners have deepened so much now that we have this vast life component to bond over. I understand them in a new, profound way.
7. Goodbye Martha Stewart – It’s funny to think back on the version of myself who stressed out every time dirt got tracked inside the house. Hudson loves to dig in the dirt, walk in the mud, and everything in between. When he gallops in the front door, now I just think: thank goodness for our Roomba.
8. Naps – Sometimes when Hudson gets all sleepy and goes to nap, I can’t help but do the same. He’s taught me to take a break now and then, for no good reason.
9. Nature + Mindfulness – I wouldn’t trade the hours we spend wandering around outside every day phone-free for anything in the world. I look up at the trees, watch the birds fly by, and just think about how lucky we are.
10. Cheese Whiz – Quite simply, I never knew how good it was! No wonder they give it to him at the vet.
11. New Experiences – Hudson has gotten this lifelong introvert and homebody out of her shell and into the world. Whether we are headed to the farmer’s market, the park, the beach, or anywhere else – places I wouldn’t have gone alone are now a regular part of life.
12. Keep it Moving – Being a web designer, it used to be very easy for me to sit at my desk for 6-8 hours only getting up to head to the kitchen and back. Getting up frequently to take Hudson out and/or play with him has been good for my body.
13. Warmth – Anybody who knows me knows I suffer from cold hands and feet basically from October to April. It’s amazing what a warm dog in your lap can do for the extremities.
14. Faith – I always knew I wanted to train my dog, and I’d read that you have to stay patient and have faith in the process. What I also realized in training is that it has taught me to have faith in him and in myself. The path to success is never a straight line so why should ours be? We’ll get there.
15. Asking for Help – Whether it was calling a dog-owner friend during those early weeks when I was completely overwhelmed or asking my mom to watch Hudson when I had to go out of town for a few days, having a dog has taught me how to ask the people in my life for help when I need it.
16. Patience – A puppy might bite your toes, pull ruthlessly on your sweater, poop on the rug, or do a million other things that could make a person lose it. But all it takes is one look at that little face to realize they mean you no harm and are simply being themselves, doing what makes the most sense to them given their life experiences so far.
17. A Gift for Everyone – One of the best things about having Hudson is that he’s not only a gift to me – he’s also a gift to everyone in my life: friends, family members, and even people we pass on the street. As I’m always telling him (yes I talk to him all the time) he spreads smiles and happiness everywhere he goes.
18. Meeting New People – It was never easy for me to strike up conversations with strangers before I had a dog, but now I seem to do it all the time. Hudson would make traveling to a new town (either to visit or to live) immensely easier because I know I’d meet people every day out and about with my pup.
19. Empathy – Having a dog has allowed me to experience empathy in a new way. Whether I am taking Hudson to the groomer for the first time, introducing him to a bigger dog, taking him to a very crowded place, or any other new and potentially scary thing, I find I am consistently trying to put myself in his shoes (that is, if he wore shoes) and give him what he might need. How would the world look different if I were only 10 inches high and weighed 8 pounds? I’ve found it has led me to feel more empathy for those around me in other areas of my life as well.
20. Fills Your Love Bucket – A few years ago, I read a book to my 9yo nephew called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? The premise is that each of us has an invisible love bucket that we carry around all the time. When it’s full we feel good, and when it’s empty we feel bad. We can fill our own bucket AND others’ buckets at the same time by doing nice things for others. I’ll never forget our first family camping trip with Hudson this summer … at one point at the beach my sister smiled at me and said to my nephew “Now that Hudson is here, Janelle’s love bucket is always full.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂
Thank you for filling up my “love bucket” every day, Hudson.
Has a pet made your life better? Let us know in the comments below 👇