By: Jonny @ Huron
August 26 is National Dog Day, and we’re celebrating our furry friends for their endless love and companionship. It’s also a great time to support initiatives around rescuing and adopting dogs that need a home. Every year, over 6 million companion animals — over half of which are dogs — enter US shelters.
We’ll share some resources below on how you can help out and get involved. But first, I would like to highlight my personal journey over the last 2 years with my best friend. Enter Wilee: Huron’s very own Chief Barketing Officer, in-house fragrance sniffer, and Face Moisturizer licker.
Growing up, I loved dogs. I always planned on becoming a dog parent one day. Whether it was Cody — my neighbor’s 130 lb newfie, who was big enough for me to sit on like a couch — or Daisy the miniature beagle, who my other neighbor rescued, some of my fondest childhood memories come from playing and taking care of dogs.
Fast forward to spring of 2019, I just moved in with my partner here in NYC. We both wanted to adopt a dog and we began to do our research. My employer at the time had a company-wide Slack channel (#pups), exclusively dedicated to dog parents and dog lovers. On a random day, I happened to glance at a notification, and saw a puppy that was due to return to the shelter that month.
I had a gut feeling: “he’s it”, I had to adopt him. Within a few hours, we were meeting him. Within a week plus some paperwork later, he was tearing up our apartment, nibbling on furniture and making happy accidents on our floors. Given his resemblance to a hyena / coyote, we named him Wilee, after Wile E. Coyote. If there was ever a definition of “a rambunctious puppy straight out of a cartoon”, Wilee was it.
Training, Learnings, Routines...Repeat
At Huron, we’re all about building good habits and chalking up the small wins. The same thing applied while raising a puppy, a creature of habit. In the countless hours spent training Wilee, I learned valuable lessons around patience, empathy, communication, and persistence. Positively reinforcing every win, no matter how small in scale, was critical for building Wilee’s manners and maturity.
Wilee’s good habits reinforced my own routines. I’m up at 8am every morning now, knowing he’s waiting and ready for our morning walk/run. Keeping him on a healthy diet also made me more conscious of my own eating habits. Before Wilee, sometimes I’d lose track of meals and miss certain breakfasts on busy days. But with him, I know to keep our morning routines consistent. I have a companion that I love to take care of.
Dogs are pack animals by nature, so it was important for me to show Wilee I could be a calm, assertive leader he could depend on in any situation. I also didn’t have a choice, Wilee can smell fear.
The best parts of being a dog parent.
In my opinion, it’s truly a privilege to be able to raise a dog and to be on the receiving end of such unconditional love. A blog post isn’t enough space to list out all the joys brought on by raising Wilee, but here’s a few I could think of:
1. Unlimited happiness.
Interactions with dogs can boost dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin levels. These are the “feel good” chemicals our brains release that improve mood and affect happiness.
Wilee is a highly expressive and energetic dog. He knows he can communicate with me. Being in-sync with your best friend is a great feeling, as you’re always one eye-contact away from a good session of fetch, zoomies, or tug-of-war. Even when the day can get super busy, taking a quick break to reset and to spend time with Wilee has been tremendous for my mental health and well being.
2. A master class in responsibility and awareness.
Training a dog also means training yourself. I’ve become much more responsible with keeping my schedule and good routines. Another perk of learning from training is that you become much more aware of your surroundings and can have a stronger attention to detail in all aspects of life.
3. There is a community in dog parenting.
We get stopped frequently on the street because people want to meet Wilee, especially when he was a puppy. Nothing breaks the ice like playing with a dog, and I’ve built great relationships with other dog owners, in which we can always learn from and support each other.
4. A new perspective.
To me, raising Wilee has helped me better understand how I view happiness and love. I’ve developed healthier relationships with those (humans) around me, especially with my partner.
Final Thoughts & Additional Resources
There’s a reason they’re called Man’s Best Friend. No matter when, there will always be a dog out there available and ready to love you.
Lastly, here’s a few great resources to learn more about how you can help shelter animals at any capacity, whether it’s adopting, fostering, donating or volunteering.
https://atlantahumane.org/ (fun fact: Wilee was born here!)
Note: Are you a dog parent or considering becoming one? If you enjoy reading about Wilee and I, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or would like to just chat about all things dogs (training, feeding, exercising, traveling with a dog...etc).