My Dogs are My Self Care
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My Dogs are My Self Care

Lately I am seeing the phrase “self care” everywhere I look. Now, maybe it’s been around longer than I know and I’m only now noticing it, because I have been going through a lot of personal changes myself the last few years. I have been learning about mindfulness, meditation, energy, connecting with the source energy of the universe, reading non-fiction books about people with life advice, and figuring out how to make my brain work for me instead of running around all willy-nilly. Basically, I’ve been trying to make my brain act like a six-year-old Labrador (energetic but in control) instead of a one-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer (crazy and all over the place). At any rate, it seems like “self-care” is the buzzword of the year.

In a quest to better understand what exactly everyone is talking about when they say self-care, I did what we all do and Googled it. I found this in an article called What Self Care Is and What It Isn’tSelf-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health on  The article went on to say that self-care was the key to an improved mood and reduced anxiety.

I thought about that for awhile and realized that I’ve been participating in self-care since that day in 1976 that I wrote about in my book when I learned the beauty of having a dog as my best friend. It turns out that my dogs are my self-care, and I bet that they fall into that category for so many of the readers of this blog and dog owners everywhere.

I found another article on a website called MoneyCrashers called What is Self Care: Definition, Tips and Ideas for a Healthy Life. In it, they ask these questions: 

What do I most enjoy doing with my time? (Your answer shouldn’t include work or chores.)

What activities make my heart feel at rest and at peace?

When do I feel the most full of life and well-being?

When do I feel the tension release from my neck, shoulders, and jaw? What am I doing when this tension goes away?

Which people provide me with energy, strength, and hope, and how much time do I spend with them compared to the people who drain my sense of well-being with negativity and guilt?

When do I feel my life is full of purpose and meaning?


I have a feeling that if you’re a reader of my blog or came across this post and clicked on it, that you completely understand what I am saying.

What activities make my heart feel at rest and at peace? When I am chilling with the dogs, petting their bellies in silence, stroking their silky ears, watching them sleep, reading a book with our heads on the same pillow. It is more therapeutic and good for my own energy than any meditation I’ve ever done.

Sometimes I actually like to lay next to them in silence and stillness and give thanks to the universe, “thank you for these dogs, for their presence in their lives, for the love and friendship that we share, for the lessons that they teach and the knowledge to make their lives as happy as possible.” 

What do I most enjoy doing? Taking the dogs on a hike, playing with them in the yard, having Puppy Power Hour in the house. 

When do I feel the most full of life and well being? When the dogs and I are out on a walk, in that one of a kind mind meld zone. I love when we are in the yard together and they are off leash and we walk next to each other in harmony, the dogs trotting to my left side in companionable silence. There is no need for words that they cannot speak. I feel our connection just by walking together side by side. 

When do I feel like my life is full of purpose and meaning? When I am writing this blog, sharing this content that might just help a fellow dog owner emotionally or with practical information. I have never felt in any other career the same joy and satisfaction over answering a question for someone in need of information as I do when I can help a person and their dog. 

In another article, this one in Forbes, I read this: 

Know your worth: Self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself as it produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

So I sat here, staring at the blinking cursor on the screen and wondered if categorizing my time with my dogs as self-care would still apply. Not that it matters in terms of how I am going to approach my time with my dogs, but for the sake of this blog I was curious. And the answer is that yes, it does!

In fact, a 2016 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that humans with a close relationship with their dog experienced higher self-esteem and were happier.  When you think about it, your dogs are your biggest fans, looking to you for everything, happy when you return home, gazing at you with adoration, so it’s only natural for them to make you feel good about yourself.

So what does this mean? What can you take away from this? For the diehard dog lovers, maybe your takeaway is that you can relate to this 100%. Maybe your takeaway is that you can stop wondering if you’re getting enough self-care like all the talk shows and magazines are saying you should, and just snuggle up to your pup, sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching Animal Planet together.

If you have not experienced these quiet moments with your dog, try out spending time with your dog as a way to restore your energy. Sit quietly together, no phone, no music, no TV, and focus on your breathing while you gently stroke your dog’s fur wherever she likes to be petted, or go outside in the yard with your dog and watch him as he sniffs the ground, watch his nose at work, his brain analyzing every scent, and appreciate the things that make him so dog-like and unique. 

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