5 Unexpected Ways My Dog Has Improved My Life

Dogs offer so much more than just companionship

Carly J Hallman

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My dog Harpo in his favorite park

Dogs make great companions — that much we all know. When a dog comes into your life, you gain a loyal friend, a pal to keep your loneliness at bay, which has been particularly relevant in this era of social distancing. You have someone to talk to in silly voices and someone to talk about with your partner or friends. But dogs bring other benefits too.

I was lucky enough to call my dog Harpo family long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. However, he didn’t come to me under particularly fortunate circumstances. My parents, empty nesters in their 50s, brought him home at nine weeks old. They fully expected that they’d be the ones saying goodbye to him someday after he’d lived a long, satisfying doggy life. They didn’t expect to die first, a mere two years later. When all was said and done, I decided to adopt him. It wasn’t the easiest route, but I’d known and loved him since he was a pup, and I thought it’d be best if he stayed in the family. Several logistical nightmares and several thousand dollars later, we landed together in England, where he has happily lived with my husband and me ever since.

Having a dog is never easy — it’s a commitment, it can be expensive, and it requires you to make sacrifices. But in return, I’ve been amazed to watch my life change and improve in five unexpected ways.

1. Dogs help you connect to your community

When I moved to Beijing in my early 20s, I found it incredibly challenging to meet people I could connect with. There were only so many times I could go to a restaurant or bar by myself without feeling like a sad, pathetic weirdo. When I wasn’t working, I began experimenting with new tactics — striking up inane conversations with random people on public transportation, sitting in cafes and trying to look interesting, scrolling through depressing online dating websites. Eventually, I found my people, but not without a lot of wasted time and effort.

It was an entirely different story when my husband and I first moved to our current town just outside London. Coming here, we didn’t know a soul. Of course, we had each other, which made things easier. But more than each other, we…

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Carly J Hallman

Just another 30-something writing about the internet, nostalgia, culture, entertainment, and life. Author, screenwriter, copywriter. www.carlyjhallman.com