1. Having a dog is a commitment.

You can’t just decide on the spur of the moment that it would be cute to have a dog. You will buy special dog food because dogs shouldn’t really eat human food. There will be trips to the vet, vaccinations, medicine and grooming appointments. You will also start buying toys, doggie shirts and costumes. Or is that just me?

When I see dog owners who just tie up their dogs all day, keep them in a cage, or just leave them with other people all the time, I want to shake them. Why did you ever get a dog if you’re not ready to take care of them? Tying them up or keeping them locked up is probably one of the cruelest things anyone can do.

2. Playing is fun.

We often forget this. But when you have a dog, the simplest things become important again. I’ve bought my dog so many toys but his favorite toy is my slipper, which he tries to bite off my foot so he can play with it. Sometimes I will just watch my dog as he rolls around in his bed.

3. Hugs are magic.

No day is complete without petting or cuddling my dog. I did learn recently that they don’t like hugs, because to them it’s a sign of being dominated. That explains why my dog always squirms away! Or it could also be because I squeeze him way too hard. Either way, I’ve tried to cut down on my squeezing/hugging and just try to pet him and brush his hair as often as I can.  This is a relaxing ritual for both of us.

4. You will get poop on your hands.

And you will survive. You will also pick up poop even if you’re wearing your best dress.  If he’s got to go, he’s got to go.

5. You will learn to speak dog.

My dog hardly ever barks. If he wants something, he will just sit in front of me, and stare until I give him what he wants. And I mean stare. He will not budge at all. Fortunately, he can only want one of three things – water, food, or a walk.

Also part of speaking dog? Sounding like a lunatic when talking to your dog and coming up with crazy nicknames on the fly.

6. Reunions are priceless.

When you leave your dog to go to work, they think they’re being abandoned. They have no concept of time, so when you leave, they don’t understand that you’ll be coming back. You’ll be off doing something productive (and earning money to buy them food, etc.), but they’ll just be waiting at home. So when you get home and they greet you, it’s like their world is complete again. This is why it’s important to always greet your dog when they meet you. Never ignore them.  Coming home to an eagerly waiting dog who is just ready to smother you with doggie kisses is the best stress-reliever in the world.