We have always had dogs in my family – in fact, it’s hard for me to remember a time when there wasn’t a dog living in our family home. I was born into a home where we were all big animal lovers, especially dogs and that love has stayed with me through to my adult years.

I have cared for all of my family dogs, but since adopting Stewie, my rescue Staffordshire Bull Terrier, in 2016, I have experienced what a true bond between a dog and a human looks and feels like. We have done a lot together – gone on car adventures, entered dog shows (where Stewie came second in his class, I might add!) and even gone on a weekend trip away. I may have taught him basic commands such as ‘high five’ and ‘leave it’, but actually, Stewie has taught me a lot of valuable life lessons that I have taken on board since living with him, and this is what I am going to discuss with you in this article.

1 – It’s okay to have a day off

I’m sure all my dog does all day is sleep (a solid 90% of the day), eat, drink some water and have a mad half an hour. Some days, he just chills on the sofa and is absolutely content with this. The lesson I have taken from this is that it’s okay to have a day of doing absolutely nothing. A saying I have recently seen across social media is “Your productivity does not define your worth” and this is absolutely true. If you want to have a day dedicated to staying in your pyjamas and sitting on the sofa watching Netflix all day – just do it! Don’t feel guilty about it!

2 – Your own company is needed

Before Stewie joined us, he had unfortunately spent the majority of his life in and out of rescue kennels. He has been used to his own company and quite often craves it, especially if he hasn’t been at home alone during the day. He takes himself off into a different room and I see this as being his time to unwind or destress. This is something we all need to be doing. Spending time alone and doing what you want to do is great for your mental health and wellbeing. Whether this is having a bath, reading a book, watching a film or just sitting and listening to music – make sure you spend your time on you.

3 – Structure and routine is important

Dogs definitely have an internal body clock – it may not be scientifically proven – but Stewie has a daily routine that runs like clockwork. He wakes up at the same time, needs to go for a walk or be let outside at the same time, and definitely lets us know when it’s his tea time! This has taught me that having structure and routine to your day is important. No matter what your routine looks like, making sure it is similar each and every day will do wonders for how you feel in yourself overall. A big part of this is making sure you’re getting enough sleep and going to bed at the same time when you can. 

4 – Appreciate time with loved ones

There is nothing Stewie loves more than spending time with us in the evenings. As I mentioned at the start of this article, we have a very strong bond that we’ve developed over the years but Stewie also appreciates time with his extended family too. He definitely recognises people (and dogs) he has got to know over the years and loves spending time with them. Seeing him interact with people has taught me to appreciate the people I have around me and make sure I dedicate time to them. Whether that is seeing them face-to-face or just dropping them a quick message to ask how they are, it is a really important part of the social side of our lives.

As Stewie gets older, and we spend more and more time together, I am looking forward to learning more from him. Dogs are fascinating animals and the telepathy that they have is truly amazing. 

This article was first published on our partner publication, Motiv8.me Magazine.

Credit for main article image: Nicki Jones Photography

Rachel Smith
Rachel Smith is a huge animal lover and has always been passionate about the wellbeing of pets. She currently has a rescue dog, Stewie and a corn snake, Samson, but has experience of looking after various different pets over the years.

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