How Dog Sitting Taught Me to Live a Happier Life

3 (Surprising) Lessons on Happiness I Learned From Dog Sitting

dog sitting

Photo via Stephanie Rausser Photography

 

Since quitting my job last November I have been hitting the side hustle – hard. One of my most lucrative undertakings has been serving as a dog sitter for DogVacay.com. The site matches dogs and their owners with people in their neighborhood who are willing to offer their services as sitters and walkers. For someone like me who would love to own a dog but realistically knows she’s not ready for that kind of commitment, it’s great. It’s like being the aunt- you get all of the fun of watching a dog without the long term cost and responsibility of owning one.

When I started dog sitting it was purely with the aim of making money. Six dogs later, dog sitting has delivered a surprising and unexpected reward. My days of dog sitting have actually taught me lessons on how to live a happier life. It might sound crazy but it’s true.

As you head into your weekend, consider these three lessons and how you can apply them to your own soon to be happier life!

1. Take Time to Warm Up and Cool Down at the Start and End of Every Day

dog sitting

This is Betsy. Every morning Betsy would wake me up at 6:30 eager to take her 45 minute AM walk. When I returned home at the end of the day she was ready, once again, to leash up and head out for another nearly hour-long trot. We followed a usual course each time- walking around the block, heading down to the beach, and strolling along the Main St. shops on our return. There was no getting out of these twice daily walks and while I initially thought of them as an inconvenience, I soon learned to appreciate them.

Typically my day begins with me rushing out of bed to immediately begin taking on the world. If I’m lucky it ends with a few minutes of downtime catching a favorite TV show or reading whatever book I’m in the middle of reading – but not often. When I dog sit I don’t have a choice but to slow down and take time to warm up and cool down my days with a relaxing walk. I’ve found that the practice is something that makes every day easier to face and recover from. Whether it’s taking time for a walk, to mediate, or simply to enjoy a cup of coffee/wine I recommend adding in this warm up/cool down practice to your daily routine.

2. Pause and Enjoy the Little Moments of Happiness

dog sitting

Meet Wilbur, a 10 year old French bulldog I’ve had the pleasure of watching on more than one occasion. It didn’t take much to keep Wilbur happy. He was pretty content to lie around the house all day without much attention or playtime needed. The one thing Wilbur truly did look forward to were the belly rubs I would give him whenever I’d get home from my day. No matter what I was in the middle of doing, I always made sure to take a few minutes to give Wilbur the loving he was looking for.

I have a tendency to beeline from one to-do to the next without taking time to breathe. If you’re a similar Type A personality I’m sure you understand. Wilbur reminded me to make time to pause throughout my day and enjoy the little moments of happiness. Now, each day I try to remind myself to take note of the things that make me smile- seeing the ocean when I walk out my door, catching the sunset, hearing my favorite song on the radio- and to pause, breathe, and live in them rather than letting the moments pass by without notice.

3.  Prioritize Your Time Around Those Who Value it the Most

dog sitting

These two little guys are Cali and JJ, a pair of rambunctious house guests who stayed with me for 10 days. The two were quite the couple and while they kept each other entertained they also required a lot of my attention. If one was barking the other was finding a garbage bin to eat things out of. These high energy pups also kept a strict schedule and insisted on being walked, fed, and put to bed at the same time each day. Needless to say, they were cute but they were a handful.

When I was watching Cali and JJ I had to schedule everything else around them. I made sure I was home to feed them when they wanted to eat and to walk them exactly one hour after each meal. These two made me think about how I prioritize my schedule and make time for the people in my life. They reminded me that no matter how busy I might be it’s important to always put my important relationships first and let everything else fall into place around that time.

Comment below and let me know what you think or tweet @SingleDiariesXO!

Superbly Single,

Jen

Your biggest fan, brunch buddy, and online BFF. Consider me your wing woman for brand success.

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