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Did You Choose Your Dog? Or Did Your Dog Choose You?

I once thought I chose my Schnauzers -- but after they changed my life, I think they found me.

 |  Jan 10th 2013  |   11 Contributions


We all believe we choose the dogs who are going to be part of our family. Your choice could be based on a favorite breed, the type of dog you grew up with, or the size of dog you’re comfortable with. Maybe you’re active and liked a dog who could enjoy the outdoors with you. 

Whatever the case, we all believe we choose the dogs we bring into our families. However, have you ever had a dog just show up on your doorstep or in your neighborhood that you’re compelled to make part of your family for some unknown reason? Have you ever visited a dog adoption event and walked away with a dog who you never planned on getting? Do we really choose our dogs, or do they choose us?

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Man relaxing with his best friend. by Shutterstock.

I am a big fan of Schnauzers. I originally thought that I chose “the boys,” as I call them, because of their intelligence and easiness to train. Schnauzers are also more hypo-allergenic than other breeds, and this helps curtail my wife’s allergies to dogs. At 30 pounds, they seemed to be just the right size to run in the park with, and small enough to transport both in two separate crates in the back of our SUV. I could also carry them up and down the stairs as they got older and their health started to decline.

What I later came to realize was my reasons were all logical. These were things that anyone could glean from reading dog books and visualize with their own two eyes. However, I grew to learn that there was more to it. I realized that dogs have their own unique personalities, they have their own purposes, and they each have a mission to fulfill when they become a part of our lives.

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The Boys, Woody and Buzz

For “the boys,” they were more than just companions and play partners. They taught me to appreciate the many blessings in life, not to waste a single minute, and to pursue what brings joy and happiness. These are the things that bring a smile to your face and make you excited about waking up in the morning.

Before “the boys," I had no real spiritual path. I barely took the time to focus on anything outside of work. Until they joined my family, I would have never considered leaving a lucrative career to pursue writing and working with animals on a full-time basis. I am forever grateful to them. 

I have seen this in many others through my years of working with families and their dogs. For example, there was a man who was an alcoholic until his dog came into his life. His dog was in desperate need of training and structure. The man couldn't provide this type of focus and attention while he was drinking. So, he gave up alcohol to devote all of his attention on training and working with his dog.

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A Golden Retriever on a sunny autumn day by Shutterstock.

In another example, a lady was going through a divorce and had lost all motivation and joy in her life. Her family decided to adopt a dog on her behalf to provide her companionship and to take her mind off of the challenges she was facing. It totally worked! The lady became happy again and the dog gave her a newfound purpose.

Another man I know spent all his time working at his job. His health was declining and he had stopped socializing with other people. One day a dog showed up at the doorstep of his house. He felt sorry for the dog and decided to invite him inside. After several days, he decided to start taking the dog with him to his office. He took many breaks during the day to walk the dog and to exercise. He met new people walking the dog and formed new friendships. The dog helped him get physically and mentally healthy again.

I am a firm believer that our dogs choose us and show up in our lives for a specific purpose. And sometimes it takes the proverbial "2x4 to the side of the head" to make us realize and appreciate why they arrived and were a part of our lives at that specific moment in time.

Do you choose your dogs or did your dogs choose you? Share your experiences in the comments! 

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