My husband and I are admittedly those people who treat their dog as one of their children. But why shouldn’t we? She has rewarded us in so many ways, by being the most amazing companion to our family and believe it or not, helping us live a more crunchy lifestyle. As we are on a mission to live more naturally, is it possible to have a pet help you do the same? I believe so.
Sadie is a vibrant 6 year old English Springer Spaniel, who my husband and I picked out from a litter of puppies a family member had. (Think no dogs from a puppy mill, and if you can adopt, to obtain your pet in an even more crunchy way) She admittedly was a little bit of a wild puppy, living with Aaron and I in a small townhouse, she chewed everything in sight. But we were strict with training her and she turned out to be an amazing animal. I’m convinced she’s the perfect family dog, she’s very mellow and quiet in the house, but when you get her outside, she lets loose! Most people refer to her as a human rather than a dog, as she’d rather sit next to you, then play with other fellow members of her species. Since the birth of our daughter she has become very protective of myself and the baby, another added bonus of free security. So how is she helping us be crunchy?
-Gets Us Outside
Sadie is a hunting/working breed, so it’s important for her to run and be outside when we can. This being said, she drives us to get outside at all times of the year. Whether it’s walking around the block, going for a hike in the woods, attending outdoor events, going swimming (she loves any body of water), and even kayaking (yes Sadie will swim along the side of our kayaks!), she keeps us active and enjoying the outdoors. After the recent birth of our daughter, in the dead of winter, Sadie was our excuse to get out for a walk, even when it was cold, we bundled up Sophia at 2 or 3 months, put her on our chests in her Ergobaby or in her stroller, and took the dog for a walk. Sadie makes outdoor activities all that more enjoyable. I am so excited to see how she plays outside with our daughter Sophia when she gets older. All these activities are obviously at little to no added cost for our family.
As I stated above, our pooch is that of the hunting breed. Her original purpose was to “flush”, or push birds and other small game, out of bushes and brush while hunting, so their owners could then shoot the game freely. Sadie, although very domesticated and very much a house dog, enjoys hunting with my husband like you wouldn’t believe. She literally knows what camouflage clothing means and what a gun/bow represents. She acts like a kid at Christmas when these items appear. That being said, she accompanies my husband hunting and instinctively assists him. She does what she’s meant to do, my husband thoroughly enjoys her company, and sometimes they even come home with some local game.
Sadie has also gone through training to be a therapy dog. Her breed is known for this, being able to volunteer to visit sick children, elderly, or handicapped. Although I have yet to bring her to do so, I hope to in the future once my newborn has grown a bit. I think it will be an important way to give back, and to teach my daughter the importance of acts of kindness and volunteering your time.
Our dog has become very intuitive over the time we’ve had her, I’m convinced she can read emotions before I can. She always wants to be near you or touching one of us when we’re at home. After a hard day of work, or an emotional time, Sadie is always there, quietly sitting next to you, placing her head on your lap. Stroking her soft fur, I swear lowers my blood pressure. When I’m upset, she literally tries to sit on top of me, give me a kiss, or nuzzle my hand. When I was laboring at home before the birth of my daughter 3 months ago, Sadie became so upset every time I had a contraction, she was literally sitting on top of me and wouldn’t leave my side. When I was in pain, she would whine uncontrollably. My husband had to have his parents come pick her up when things got tougher, since she was so upset and a distraction. The dog senses things, and tries to be there for you. There have been numerous studies that show the health benefits of having a pet in this way.
-Free Heat Source
This sounds silly, yes, but just last night my husband commented that we didn’t need heat in our bedroom at night because we have extra blankets and…the dog. We allow her to sleep on a blanket at the foot of our bed in the winter, and let me tell you, she keeps my feet extra toasty. As Jennifer has posted about, we also try our best to keep our heat lower in the winter, especially at night, and the dog helps us achieve that by keeping us toasty warm. She also is always up for a cuddle under a blanket on the couch.
Is our dog herself living a crunchy lifestyle? Well we strive for that, but easier said then done. Although I do purchase commercial dog food, I do so from a locally run store, rather then a big box chain, and her food is made from whole ingredients. Everything on the label of her food are things I can pronounce and know of, in fact most are things I eat….lamb, carrots, spinach, etc. Yes this food comes at a little bit of an extra cost, but aside from making my own dog food (something maybe I’d try in the future!), it’s the best thing available for her. I’m willing to spend a little extra knowing my dog isn’t eating chicken beaks and sawdust (yep that’s in a lot of dog food), just as I’m willing to spend a little more on buying fresh veggies and fruit for myself. She often eats veggies and fruit, just as we do as well. She loves broccoli and carrots! When Sadie has a issue, we try to cure it the same way we would for ourselves, with home remedie or naturally. Sadie struggled with issues of what we like to call stinky butt, and rather then running to the vet every month to have it taken care of and wasting money, we experimented with her diet. Turned out all she needed was a little extra fiber and nutrition, so every day we sprinkle a dry flaky supplement on her food, mostly comprised of seaweed and other whole ingredients and surprise, problem solved. We also do our best to not run to the vet with her, and stretch out her grooming in order to save money, or do it ourselves. She is a small added expense, but in my mind, a well worth one. She gives back to us much more then I could ever give to her.
Next time you are considering a pet, or a friend for your children, remember they can be a great enhancement to your natural life. Do your research and find one that works for you.
Do you have a pet that helps you live a crunchy lifestyle, or is the pet itself crunchy?