I’m not really one who is much for words and I prefer to stay a little bit quieter and reserved but I wanted to take some time to really dig into how and why adopting a dog, from anywhere, has been so life-changing for me personally. We live in a day and age where many still see dogs as “property” but they are so much more than that and I wanted this blog to be on how much they can significantly impact your life for the better.
Over the course of the last few years running this rescue, alongside my wife Amanda, I have personally learned so many lessons, many painful experiences but many amazing ones as well. The concept of welcoming a random dog into your established home may cause doubt or uncertainty but it has truly been one of the best decisions of our lives and I wanted to share that with you all here.
If you do not follow us closely, I will remind everyone here that we had two dogs from before rescue and then we decided to add in three more, all rescues from China. There were many trials and tribulations but now that we are through them all, I can see so clearly how worth it the entire experience and process was and more importantly how much I have grown as a man in more ways than you would imagine. After reflecting on the entire experience of rescue, I wanted to share some of my highlights with you all, in hopes that it speaks to your heart as well.
How My Rescue Dogs Taught Me Gratitude-
The first thing I would like to bring up is the topic of gratitude and appreciation. When you adopt a dog from a such horrific conditions, you will not only see their gratitude expressed every single moment but you will emotionally feel it as well.
I can think back to when we first brought home Winston and more specifically when we took our first photos of him at home. He had such a confused and insecure look on his face, looking back, it was heartbreaking to imagine how lost he must have felt. As humans, we tend to forget all these dogs have been through. He had just gotten off a 15-hour flight and before that, he was living in a crowded shelter with tons of random dogs and no human affection and before that, pulled off of a meat truck in which I am sure involved abuse and pain. I cannot even begin to imagine all that was going through his mind coming home with us that day.
Fast forward to now, almost one year later, and his facial expression and energy, in general, are totally different. Winston basically says “thank you” every moment of every day with how he acts now. It’s amazing to see his transition and that “We” were able to give him this new life to experience. I could give stories for every one of our dogs but this would end up being pages and pages long. What I’m trying to say here is that seeing your dog’s gratitude and appreciation will rub off on you and every single one of our adopters would agree.
A Message For The Fellas-
The next thing I want to address goes out specifically to men as we do often find that women tend to be ready for adoption but their husbands or boyfriends may not be ready yet, this part is for you fellas.
Men, do you find yourselves just being an asshole for no good reason and taking your stress out on your significant other or family/close friends? Or have you ever just found yourself being constantly negative and/or sabotaging the good things in your life?? Well, I’ll be the first to say that I was guilty of that for quite some time but somehow, over time, my perception and overall attitude has shifted because of my dogs.
I just “see” things so differently now. I live my life with true gratitude every moment of every day and I believe it’s because of a simple mindset shift, which was sparked by my dogs (and certainly my wife). On the surface level, this sounds ridiculous but I’ve really given it some honest thought and just the act of having to take care of another being who cannot care for itself is a powerful action that will spark new ideas and feelings as their gratitude for you surely is felt deeply.
Maybe this is how people with children feel as well but I think this may go deeper considering these animals are quite literally saved from torture, pain, and suffering. For me, I feel like it’s very amplified. I find myself wondering what kind of suffering they went through on a daily basis and how the only thing on their minds back then was survival and fear.
I truly believe that animals have feelings and emotions. I cannot imagine the things they’ve seen, felt, and had to endure. AND YET, they still wag their tails and embrace a new family as if nothing ever happened. Whenever I’m about to have a toxic thought or a complaint I find now that I quickly stop myself and just think of how insignificant this “problem” is. It’s pretty powerful stuff and you’ll be surprised (men especially) how your attitude, relationship, and life will change with just a simple perspective shift and seeing something through a different lens.
The ability to change your thought process to a more positive way of thinking is EXTREMELY difficult so the fact that my dogs have altered my life in this way is just profound in my opinion and I think it could happen with a lot more people, men specifically, as well. This is the formula breakdown-
A Happier Marriage
Happy dog(s) equals a happy life and a happy wife! Major WIN-WIN right? Ever since seeing things from a place of gratitude for every minute of every day I can’t begin to express how much better my relationship with Amanda has become. I’m a happier and more thoughtful and compassionate person, I am more productive and efficient with my time, and I can now see things through a different lens.
Another example of how adopting a dog has strengthened our relationship is having to work together as a team to give them a better life. Vet visits, cooking their meals, giving them their first bath together, going on walks, adventures and watching them blossom and grow, you really become a tight little pack and it has brought us all so much closer, overall. As they grow, you grow.
It’s amazing how small changes of love and appreciation can affect how your significant other feels about you. Take a minute to digest it all. Giving a great life to a dog can make you a better husband. I know that sounds pretty out there but being in touch with what your heart is telling you and not just your brain is a pretty powerful thing that has improved my life for the better. I really think you’ll be surprised by how the experience of adopting a dog will change your heart.
Your New Best Friend-
This is a more sensitive subject but I bet it’s safe to assume there are quite a few people who are sad, going through tough times or perhaps are stuck in toxic thoughts or practices and there is truly nothing better than rescuing a new best friend to get you back to happier times.
As someone that has an intense and emotionally draining job, coming home to seeing a happy dog with a wagging tail does wonder to your mood, I can promise you that. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a horrible day and simply walking in the door to my dogs and wife, completely erases all of the pain.
Also, having to care for an animal in need is often a great distraction and can give your life such a newfound purpose as they rely on you for so much! In essence, they are whatever you need them to be, a pillow, a comedy show, a therapist, a blanket, a non-judgmental friend, a front-seat passenger, a road trip buddy, a workout partner, etc. Whatever you are going through in life, I can guarantee that it will be better with a dog by your side. There is a reason the saying “Who rescued who?” exists as these dogs save us just as much as we save them.
Your New Workout Partner-
With it still being January, I’m sure a lot of people made being more active a possible resolution this year. We as humans have become accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle but that simply cannot exist while owning a dog! So many times I want to just lay around but I cannot do that with our dogs starting at me ready for a walk. The more I move, the better I feel about myself; the better I feel about myself, the better human I want to be to this world. Being active and outside also scientifically is known to make you a healthier and happier person! Nothing puts me in a better mood than the fresh air and sunshine on a walk with my dog.
Dogs also make the best adventure partners. More hikes, more jogs, more explorations! Adventures and dogs go hand in hand so if you’re planning on adopting a pup; make sure you get some new shoes too!
A Dog Named Pickles-
Since these paragraphs came out a little more emotional than I had expected let’s continue on that path because talking or writing about things is a good form of therapy for me. I think most of you reading this are familiar with Pickles’ story and who he was to Amanda and I. If you don’t know who Pickles was I will surely tell you about him in this very abridged version and his greatness and how he has significantly impacted my life (and hopefully others at this point) for the better.
About a year ago, Amanda and I came across a dog that needed help and instantly decided that he had to be our next rescue pup after seeing only one blurry photo of him. He was rescued directly off a meat truck next to a German Shepard who had passed away. Amanda and I both just felt a huge pull towards him and knew we needed him in our lives.
We picked Pickles up from LAX and spent the night with him at a hotel near the beach. We probably gave him his first bath in that hotel room and he was such a floppy land seal. After the bath, we went to bed and he slept with us the whole night; probably the first time he got to experience true unconditional love. That would be the only night we would get to have with him though. As sad as it was, Pickles was very sick with a few hidden infections that would prove to be too much for him to fight.
Amanda and I did everything possible for Pickles but he could not be saved. We also learned a valuable lesson about the right tests these dogs need before flying as even if dogs appear healthy, viruses can be buried in their innocent bodies, coming out when exposed to added stress. I remember being there with him holding his paw as his spirit left his body and it’s a sight and feeling I’ll never forget. I told him he would never be forgotten, that I loved him so very much, and I was so happy that he got to experience a few hours of what being a family meant.
After the dust and the emotions settled, Amanda and I made a call to Sally (an animal communicator) for a bit of closure. Sally relayed to us Pickles was here on this earth for a very specific mission and to impact the lives of many people to spread compassion and to help as many different rescue dogs as he could. Pickles told us to not be sad and he would always be with us to help with our mission of rescuing dogs; almost as if he was our guardian angel.
The many different stories of Pickles are for a different time but I will say his presence has been made known many different times since his passing. I have not been the same person since the moment Pickles passed away. I felt a change in my heart and in my brain chemistry. Pickles made me realize how precious life is and how in one moment you can be on top of the world and the next, the very bottom.
I have read about the principle of “living in the now” by reading a couple different books by Eckhart Tolle but Pickles’ passing really made me grasp the reality of what that meant. Living in the moment means you are truly present in whatever it is that you’re doing, big or small. You are not thinking about the past or the future; only this present moment that you are in right now. Being “present” in whatever it is you’re doing in daily life will not only affect your life but others around you. It’s contagious.
Pickles also made me realize that it’s simply not enough to just be sad when bad things happen; you must act and do something about it. He has affected not only my heart but also my spirit to be the best human being I can be, every day. Pickles, I know you are always with us, I love you very much and miss you every single day. I hope you’re doing well buddy and we will see you one day soon!
If you would like to take another few minutes of your day to read about Pickles and his story to learn about what his mission continues to be please visit his blog post here. After reading it, I do feel like it will inspire you to be better at whatever you choose to act on. Amanda wrote his story out much more eloquently than I ever could.
So all in all, I hope you can find it in your heart to open your home to a rescue dog. There is truly no better feeling than giving life to something that, without you, would otherwise not have one. They WILL greatly affect you in the best ways and encourage you to live your best life every day and it will be one of those decisions you make that you look back on and ask yourself why didn’t I do this sooner. If you won’t help them, who will?
Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read this. I hope you were able to at least take a little something away from this and create some kind of change or at least the idea of change. I cannot express enough gratitude to you all who support us each and every day and encourage us to continue rescuing these precious pups. Without your support, we would not be able to do even a ¼ of what we are doing now. It’s amazing what a little virtual teamwork and passion can do for the world!