“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
My husband and I waited two months after we got married to adopt Romeo, our dog, from a local rescue. My husband fell in love with him when we saw him at an adoption event. We found out that the adorable small brown dog who kept looking at my husband was a Bichon Frise/Poodle/Yorkie mix. Since we hadn’t discussed getting a dog, we decided to wait a week, think about it, and research these breeds to see if he would be a good fit for our family. Of course, we couldn’t stop thinking about him, so a week later, we brought Romeo home. My stepdaughter, who was 7 years old at the time, was excited to get a puppy. We were happy to have a playful puppy who made us laugh, but nothing could quite prepare us for everything that goes along with housebreaking and raising a puppy.
As a childless stepmom, I wasn’t sure if this experience was similar to having a baby, but my husband confirmed that while it wasn’t as intense as being a new parent, it was pretty comparable. We did our best, and we learned a lot along the way. If you’re able to adopt a dog, I highly encourage it because having a dog has so many benefits for you, personally, but also for your family as a whole.
5 Reasons Why Dogs Are a Stepmom’s Best Friend
1.You always have someone to greet you when you get home.
Whenever I get home, I see Romeo’s face in the window, waiting for me. This seems like a small thing, but it means a lot. If your stepchildren or children are teenagers, they probably spend a lot of time in their rooms, so it’s nice to have someone waiting at the door who is excited to see you. John Grogan sums it up with this quote: “Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.” (Check out 25 other fun quotes about life with dogs here.)
2. Your family can bond over the dog.
Raising a dog provides so many bonding experiences. Our first one involved naming Romeo. Actually, the rescue organization had already named him Romeo, and we thought that his name fit his personality as a lover of people. However, he needed a middle name, and when my stepdaughter suggested “Biscuit”, we decided that was perfect since he loves treats. My stepdaughter was excited that she got to name him, and it is a nice memory for all of us.
You can also bond by taking an obedience class as a family. We took a 6-week class as a family. All three of us learned the commands, and practiced the commands with Romeo each week. This was great for Romeo because we were consistent with our training, but it was also good for us, because we were all on the same page.
Another benefit is if you have an only child or stepchild, having a dog is a good companion for them and can “balance” out your family. As a family of three, Romeo rounds out our family so no one feels left out. If we go on a road trip, he’s in the backseat of the truck next to my stepdaughter.
3. You stay healthy with your dog.
A dog motivates you to be active through daily walks or going to the park. Your whole family will be more active if you are all exercising and playing with your dog. In fact, researchers found that dog owners walked an average of about 30 minutes more than non-dog owners did each week. According to the American Heart Association, numerous studies have touted the benefits of dog ownership, including lowering your blood pressure, reducing stress, and helping with anxiety.
For me, walking Romeo is a time to clear my head and process what happened each day. It’s a time I look forward to after a day at work. Walking Romeo also helps me during transition days, which can be tough, as we go from being a 2-person household to a 3-person household each week. Just as it’s an adjustment for my stepdaughter, it’s also an adjustment for me.
Another benefit of walking your dog is meeting people in your neighborhood. Your stepchildren and children can also meet other children in the neighborhood if you all walk your dog together. And what a great way for them to make friends!
4. If no one is talking to you, you can talk to your dog.
Do you ever have those awkward moments when it seems like no one in your family is talking to you? Or you feel like an outsider? Well, that’s when it’s comforting to have a built-in support system in the form of an attentive audience. You can talk to your dog, and trust me, your dog will listen. (And what’s even better– researchers have discovered that dogs not only understand the words we say, but they also understand our intonation.) It’s nice to have someone who just “gets” you and loves you unconditionally.
5. If you and your husband aren’t going to have children together, you can still go through the experience of raising a pet together.
You will have to work together on taking care of your dog. Who will feed the dog on weekends when you both want to sleep in? Will you take turns walking your dog or will one of you take on that responsibility? Will your dog be allowed to sleep in your bed? How will you train and discipline your dog? You and your husband will have to discuss all of these items and more so you can get on the same page with raising your dog.
Overall, the psychological benefits of having a dog have been just as powerful as the health and bonding benefits for me. Romeo has been such an important addition to our family. I would love to hear about your experience with raising a fur baby and how this experience has helped you as a stepmom or your family. Share your stories in the comments below!