19 Stories From People About How Much Their Dog Has Changed Their Lives

Earlier this month we asked the BuzzFeed Community to let us know what they have learned from taking care of a dog.

Here are some of the best responses.

1."A dog will be your friend no matter what you look like."

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2."My rescue helped me go to therapy."

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"I was frustrated with his separation anxiety, and I said, 'I wish you could tell me how you feel so I can help you!' I realized I did have a voice, but I hadn’t used it to let anyone in to help *me.* Who rescued who, indeed."

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3."I never knew that I could possibly love something as much as I love my dogs."

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"I, like a lot of people, rescued a dog during COVID lockdown. I had just gotten out of a long-term and abusive relationship and was living by myself. Rescuing my dog truly saved me. She is my roommate and my bestie. Her unconditional love for me showed me that I am worthy of happiness. She brought my fiancé and I together, and I love his dog so much — she is just as much mine now. They are my joy and my light, and my world is so much better because of them."

ramire37

4."My dog teaches me to keep things in perspective and focus on what I can or can’t control."

"She helps me feel gratitude for the little things! When life feels chaotic and people are contentious, I feel powerless at times. However, I know that things aren’t so bad when my dog finds a really good stick and gets the zoomies over a crunchy leaf!"

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5.''Having a dog taught me, personally, that pets are really just kids with fur."

"People always say, “Oh, you’ll want kids — it’s worth the struggle,” but I feel the same love from my puppy as a child would give. Pets are family, too, and they’re always there to comfort you. ❤️''

squishyyak

6."Dogs respond to your energy, so I had to learn to leave chaos behind and have a peaceful mindset."

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'My dogs literally taught me to embrace peace in my life no matter what is going on around me. On bad days I have to clear my mind when I am with them and live in that moment. Their love and trust have completely changed my life for the better. I can never repay what they have done for me.'

elizabethg20

7."We rescued our dog from the pound when he was 2.''

image of a dog sitting on a chair with their paws crossed

"He was dog reactive/leash aggressive. I was so frustrated at first by how slowly he was learning to trust us and not be fearful in situations with other dogs. I would be so embarrassed when he would get aggressive out on walks.

It’s taken three years of consistency, a lot of love and trust, cuddles and training, and learning that progress looks different for every dog to get to where we are today. When I finally let go of my idea of how I thought he 'should' be progressing and just started loving and focusing on the things he IS great at, we started working more as a team and really made strides in his reactivity.

Now I focus on ways I can set him up for little successes to keep building on his training. I can proudly say he can walk past other dogs on leashes within about 4 feet with little to no reaction. I love Nash and the work we’ve put in to get here so much. He is our goofy cuddle bug, and we wouldn’t trade him for the world." —jordantojo

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8."That not all dogs like cuddles and not all dogs are excited to see other dogs or people."

"My dog hasn’t experienced any trauma with people or other dogs; she just has absolutely no interest in them and takes awhile to feel comfortable with them."

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9."We got a puppy after we learned that we had fertility issues."

"It was a brash decision but one that I’m so grateful for. He is the best thing I have ever bought; he brings us both so much joy and love. We both collectively adore him, and he has changed our lives and waistlines for the better."

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10."My boy saved me from myself."

Loving young woman hug dog show care and attention to animals. Happy girl adopt puppy from shelter, have pet friend in family.

"I was heading for major breakdown, and he came along and taught me how to enjoy being me again."

goniamiksch

Denis Novikov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11."I didn't want another dog. My husband and I have an older, diabetic, blind dog already."

image of a dog laying on a sofa

"And I am very particular about my home and its presentation. I prefer things to be neat and orderly. I would stay up late in the evening or get up early to clean and would get preoccupied with our home if people were coming over. Then came Murphy. He was my BIL's divorce-rebound puppy. A wildly expensive purebred. (Mine have all been rescues/adopted.)

Murphy is a train wreck. Constant drool, hair everywhere, his big face slobbers water all over the floor. I knew when BIL got him that it wasn't going to work out; he's not a bad guy but we all know divorce leads to dating, and puppies don't do well left to their own devices. Murphy would come over to visit often and stay the night or weekend when BIL was out of town for whatever reason. I told my husband his brother was going to leave the dog with us within a year. I was wrong. He lasted 18 months before he had to move eight hours away for work.

'What about Murphy?' I asked. 'Well, if you guys don't want him I'll just dump him at the pound or something.' Absolutely not. So Murphy moved in with us full time. That was Easter 2021. Labor Day weekend 2022 my husband said to me, "Murphy has really changed you." I asked what he meant and he said, 'We have 20 people coming in an hour, and you're totally calm, relaxing, and not stressed.'

Reader, this Labor Day weekend marks 19 years we've been together. And it's the first time my husband has NOT seen me stressed out to be hosting. The thing is, with all the drool and hair and boogers that glue themselves to the wall (and everything else), suddenly a little dust doesn't seem so big. This big, dumb, dump truck of a dog has a heart of gold, and he's taught me that good enough is good enough. Especially if it means you get to enjoy more time with the ones you love. I'll always be grateful that I got the dog I didn't want. ❤️" —c4d302375f

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12."Having a dog has been life changing. I struggle with depression and could not live by myself without my dog and best friends."

"We do everything together. The other day we went to an indoor dog park, and I had to use the restroom, and she waited at the fence for me until I came back. If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is."

katelinaverkamp

13."Unconditional love. There's no need to gatekeep 'true' love for human motherhood."

"On multiple occasions in the middle of the night when my anxiety-ridden 60-kilogram rescue rottweiler can't break her focus from the shadows on the wall, I have literally cradled her in my arms and sung lullabies to get her to sleep. I've experienced all the affects of true love, mmmk thank you byeeee."

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14."My lead dog and I were attacked by a traditionally aggressive breed who had escaped from its house."

"We were both left with deep wounds, I had tried to shield my dog by covering her in front of a fence, and I had panic attacks on every walk afterward. Sadly my dog died six months after. I won't get a dog again. I can afford one; I live in beautiful part of England where people buy second homes because of the countryside and walks. But I'm just too scared it will happen again. I used to be a confident person too. Now I hardly leave the house and seize up when I hear dogs bark."

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15."Love comes in many shapes and sizes."

Black man petting English bulldog

"Our boy is not a 'kisser' or traditional snuggler, but I know he cares when he rubs up against us first thing in the morning or jumps to put his paws on my chest and looks me in the eye. It's a whole wide world when it comes to expressing affection and care, and sometimes you just have to update your love language."

gabbychamp

John Fedele / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

16."It’s OK to rest, but it’s also OK to be weird and play.''

A woman spending time at home with her pet Shih Tzu dod.

"Even if you look a little silly doing it, just stop and enjoy life."

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17."I learned to be happy and accept life for what it is instead of complaining about it."

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18."If you're anxious, or your dog is, slow down and calm your body."

"Literally. Slow down your breathing, your walking speed, your moving speed. Drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw, breathe deep. Physically calming your body helps you calm your mind. You being not anxious helps them be less anxious."

chaoticemmes

19."First of all, I learned that dogs are not our toys or objects of company."

from left: Duke (voice: Eric Stonestreet), Katie (voice: Ellie Kemper), Max (voice: Louis C.K.)

"They should be cared and treated as another member of the family. That's why their mental health should be checked constantly with an ethologist. We shouldn't normalize bad behavior because it means they probably are in a bad situation with their organisms.

And of course, losing a dog, most of all if it is from a disease or anything similar, makes us learn that they don't have the possibility to speak out when something happens. They are unable to complain, and I think my whole comment just shows how a dog is a responsibility and not just a game. And as such, we should check if we are able to put our hearts, our minds, and our will to it."

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Universal / ©Universal/courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

Some responses were edited for length and/or clarity.

How has a dog shaped your life? Tell us in the comments below.