Home Friday 5 Friday 5: 5 Reasons Why Adopting A Dog Will Keep You Fit

Friday 5: 5 Reasons Why Adopting A Dog Will Keep You Fit

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I even remember the first day I saw her.

My teenaged sister (hereafter referred to as The Teenager) bought Mini-me a betta fish kit – which, if you knew The Teenager, you’d know it’s pretty impressive that she’d buy anything for anyone other than herself… no shade to her, it’s just how teenagers are – but we’d spilled the food and needed to replace it. If The Teenager was going to grow up being the kind of sister who did nice, unexpected things for my baby, the least I could do is help keep it going.

We walked into the local Petsmart, and snapped up the fish food. On the way out, though, was where we saw the sign (and it opened up our eyes…): “Dog Adoptions Saturday.”

Apparently, one of the local rescue agencies would be bringing their dogs for display that weekend, and people could come and apply to become a pet parent. I didn’t know much about the process, but I knew I loved dogs and thought it’d be a great experience for three year old Mini-me. What kid doesn’t love growing up with a big giant lovable dog?

That following Saturday, I brought Mini-me and The Teenager with us, and that… was when I saw her. Her sheet said “Sushi, Alaskan Husky/German Shepherd Mix.” She was this bright ball of light brown, curled up in a ball in a crate much too large for her and obviously a bit shaken up from the bumpy ride to the pet store… that is, until Mini-me leaned down toward the crate to “talk to her.” There, she unfolded, crept to the edge, sniffed her and, tail wagging, licked her finger.

Sold.

Because she was a puppy, they wouldn’t let her out of her crate unless we were seriously applying for her. The process required two weeks worth of a wait between application and actual purchase of the dog, which we were fine with. But after I finished that application, they handed her off to me.

The day we brought Sushi Flower home.

And, it felt like another addition to our little family. Like, she’s awesome.

Until I got her in my house.

It took a while before I figured out why it felt like the toilet paper was disappearing twice as fast…

Yes...that blur of blonde fur would be Sushi...and my toilet paper.

…or why my shoelaces kept disappearing…

…or why I always heard constant running throughout the house…

Now, I love my dog... but tell me she doesn't look batsh-t crazy right here.

…or even why things were always toppling over…

Again...nuttier than squirrel sh-t.

…but I eventually figured it out. It was Sushi!

I won’t even talk about the fact that adopting a husky resulted in literally being dragged across the block, because she put on her full tilt, full speed, sled dog swag as soon as she got out of the front door. Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure, at one point, I was airborne. Feet off the ground. It was major, and she wasn’t even a year old yet.

But…once she did become a year old, I wound up being gifted with another dog, from The Mister.

Enter Sala…

…a two year old Rottweiler and Husky mix. She’s basically a blue-eyed rotty… so, in other words, she’s scary looking. I’m pretty sure I hear the word “Cujo” at least twice a week as we walk past people.

I remember the day I picked Sala up to bring her home, and I won’t even lie. I was scared to death of her. She was huge, and scary looking. That is…until I saw this:

The Dog Whisperer...and Cujo.

At first, she was just a silent and mildly shaking dog… but Mini-me, also known as The Dog Whisperer, turned Sala into the world’s biggest teddy bear.

Again, sold.

It’s been a year, so far, with both of them and I’ve got to tell you…I don’t know what my life would be like without them. That being said… let’s run down five great reasons why adopting a dog will keep you fit:

1) Your big scary dogs can help you feel safer in your community. Not only is there the added feeling of “get the hell out of my way” when people clear the sidewalk for you and your big scary dog, not only do you feel like your big scary dog may ward off any danger bothering you on your walk? But anyone who sees you around and knows the area where you live will also know “Nah, man, she’s got those big giant dogs in there.. I’m not trying to get ate up.” They help ward off the idea of unwanted visitors. I’m almost certain that having your own big giant Sala is more effective that those ADT signs. (That’s one of those “laughing but I’m kinda serious” jokes.) Teach your dog to act “ratchet” on command outside, too? Listen. No one will want to be near you on the sidewalk. They’ll think your dogs are out of control, and will leave you alone.

2) More action! More activity! What I eventually learned the hard way was that all dogs aren’t simply “lap dogs.” Dogs have varying levels of energy, and you, as their owner, have to ensure that they’re getting activity that meets or exceeds their needs. It wasn’t until I realized that Sushi needed to be worn the hell out that she calmed down, stopped treating my toilet paper like a tasty snack, and actually became the chill dog that’s wrapped up underneath my chair as I type this. It’s one thing to have one husky. It’s another thing to have two. I had to start pulling five mile-a-days just to get my dogs to stop beefing with my furniture and, eventually, on those in-between days when I just couldn’t do 5milers back to back? I had to learn how to rollerblade and just let them drag me across Miami Beach. They went from high energy… to this:

Sala and Sushi, worn out after seven miles on the boardwalk. Look at the defeat in their eyes...they are DONE FOR!

…which leads me to my next point…

3) If you don’t walk them… they will let you know you’re slippin’. Hell hath rain down upon your household. Incessant barking. Missing toilet paper. Everything will be flipped upside down. You might even find a dog on your counter (or maybe it’s just Huskies?) looking down on you. I won’t get into “pack mentality” in detail, but if you don’t walk your “pack” often, then you don’t get to reinforce that you run “the pack” and nobody looks down on you…or takes your damn toilet paper. You wind up having to hit those miles simply because your house will be in shambles if you don’t. To hell with not going out for a walk because you lack motivation… your home looks like a tornado hit it. How’s that for “motivation?” Walk the dog, and wear ’em out while you’re at it!

A much more chill, older Sushi...and thank goodness for that.

4) Endless laughter. And I do mean endless. Dogs can be instant stress relief. You’ve got this cute little living thing that, if you put effort into him or her, will fetch your ball, your slippers, your remote, your beer… all that. You can play frisbee with him. You can even roughhouse with your dog. You can even watch them dart across the dog park (after you walked your pooch there, of course) chasing another dog or a bird or goodness knows what. There’s very little in life more hilarious than watching an 80lb dog hop up in the air 18 inches off the ground trying to grab a toy you tossed in air.

5) Learning how to train dogs is the most valuable lesson in patience one could ever experience. So much of dog training, at least for us, has been about controlling not only the dogs’ energy but our own energy, as well. It teaches you how to change the different elements of confidence that you might not think about. It teaches you a lot about how overreacting rarely solves anything other than wasting time – dogs rarely respond desirably to it, so you simply get out of the habit of doing it. It also helped Mini-me with her confidence and comfort level with animals, and had a great influence on her social skills at a young age. Just like teaching a non-speaking being to respond to verbal commands is a challenge for the dog, it is a challenge for the human as well. Patience becomes a virtue that you are rewarded for with a well-behaving dog. We had to get this down pat with Sushi, especially before Sala came around, otherwise my dogs would’ve been scrappin’ all day.

Like I said before, I’m a huge advocate for animal shelters because these are the people who do the work of rescuing animals that might otherwise be a nuisance – Sushi was a part of a litter of five left on the side of the road, and only her and her sister, Sunni, survived the entire ordeal – as opposed to breeding inbred toy dogs and attaching a hefty pricetag to them. I strongly urge anyone considering adding a dog to their family to check out their local pet store and find when they’ll be having their next adoption fair, and do a lot of researching and soul searching to consider how adding a dog to your family would add to your life.

I’d also suggest, before you get your dog, checking out the Mastering Leadership series. I love them all, use them religiously and revisit them once a year to make sure we’re not slipping on our dog handling. It’s to the point, now, where Mini-me can and will walk Sala, and Sala follows, not drags her across the Earth.

Whose dogs are keeping them fit out there? Did I miss something? Speak up!

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22 comments

Biolobri April 27, 2012 - 1:11 PM

Dogs can also save your life.

When a coworker’s friend fell ill with swine flu, all she wanted to do was lay around. She got hit hard, and almost died. Her doctor told her the only reason she’s still around is because her dogs needed walking, regardless of her condition, and it forced her to be active, which, apparently, is critical in fighting some illness. She’s 100% better now, thanks to the woof woofs.

DianaLyn April 27, 2012 - 2:53 PM

I dont own a dog, but recently house and dog sat for my sister for a week while she and the fam went on vacation. I lost a couple extra pounds that week adding a dog walk to my usual workout routine.

Gloria April 27, 2012 - 5:21 PM

My sister adopted an animal shelter puppy for my niece. Since she is sometimes out and sometimes she goes places with the kids where no dogs are accepted I keep her on certain weekends, and I also walk her out every then and now.

I admit that being the dog’s “auntie” helps burning some extra calories! and she sure knows how to win you! After a tough day, that welcoming tail-wagging of hers is quite balsamic.

Kait April 28, 2012 - 2:05 AM

The beau’s dog keeps us fit because she loves hiking…and swimming! Its always nice to take her out for a trip into the woods/mountains and go for miles, seeing the world through her eyes.

Also, I absolutely love this more intimate peek into your life. Thanks for all the beautiful photos. 🙂

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2012 - 11:06 AM

🙂

Briana Myricks April 28, 2012 - 2:28 AM

I love my pup! He was left in a box on some railroad tracks, and since my friend works for an animal rescue, she connected me with the lady who found him. Frankie just turned a year old and he’s such a ham. He’s a Jack Russell Terrier / Chihuahua mix, so certainly not as frightening as Sala or Sushi, but he keeps me active. He runs so ridiculously fast. I was walking him regularly until we moved. Actually, I need to take him walking tomorrow, no exceptions. I have him in training classes at Petco. I hope I can get him to be a canine good citizen eventually.

You’re so right. If you don’t work dogs out, they will act a fool. Frankie is also a toilet paper thief, as well as a sock thief, a high jumper, and very vocal lol. I hope to eventually get him a wife.

Ruth April 29, 2012 - 9:06 AM

My dogs are too tiny to be scary, but you are so right in the joy they bring to your life! I laugh so hard seeing their total love of being off leash, running like little crazy things, the way they accept some dog 10 times their size as a playmate. I can’t run, but I just walk longer and smile more. I have had my share of toilet paper, DVDs, etc etc destroyed, wooptiedoo lol. I wish I had rescued a dog, I did go the purchase route, but now I at least donate and reading this has inspired me to try volunteer work at the SPCA. Thank you for the look into your life!

Erika Nicole Kendall April 29, 2012 - 10:58 AM

That’s another GREAT option. You might find a place to volunteer where they actually believe in walking their dogs, and need help with that. Orrrr if you can house a stray for one of those “collective” shelters where everyone houses and cares for a stray and then brings them to the adoption fair together? Those are dope, too.

Brittany April 29, 2012 - 11:21 AM

Mi epsoso and I just adopted a rescue dog a month ago and we looooooove her so much. We’re both first time dog owners and while I already hit the gym regularly, I love that taking her out on walks give me even MORE exercise. Meiko is a Shiba Inu/American Eskimo mix so she’s got A LOT of energy. But at the same time, she knows how to be chill. And you are so right about the patience. I always thought I had a good amount of patience but this pup has taught me how to just..reeeelax. Yay for doggies!

Annette April 29, 2012 - 12:23 PM

Awww I just love this blog such a great way to stay fit. We get to see Mini me how adorable can she be such sweetie. You are truly blessed.

I am usually a cat person but I will definitely rethink getting a dog. Excellent way for security and fitness.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 29, 2012 - 12:32 PM

You should definitely consider it! Dogs can be trained to be amenable to cats and not treat them like the bulldog on Tom & Jerry, LOLOL.

And thank you for the kind words on my Mini-me! I’ve got that little girl to thank for for almost everything I’ve got right now. <3

Kimmie April 29, 2012 - 12:26 PM

There is nothing like saving the life of another living thing. Even if you adopt your dog from a no kill shelter, you are still making room in that shelter for another dog to be taken off the street and saved. There’s nothing like having a friend to take a long walk in silence with. 😉

Erika Nicole Kendall April 29, 2012 - 12:55 PM

*hugs your comment*

Cherice April 29, 2012 - 3:15 PM

I am looking toward getting a dog. I am 26, just moved to the desert & I havent had a dog since our family dog when I was 7(which our evil neighbor called animal folks on him and had him put to sleep because she lied and said that our dog bit her grandson through the gate…but he had no marks. & he was put to sleep weeks before we found out he didnt “get out of the gate”). I was thinking of maybe getting a mid size dog, But I am in an apartment, not a house. They accept pets, but I dont want my doggie to feel caged.. Though it is pretty spacious, with a dog park in the parkinglot of our building. On avg., how much is it monthly on avg? My fiance and I are on a strict budget, but I would love to stretch it on a little bundle of joy(before we think about getting pregnant).

Erika Nicole Kendall May 11, 2012 - 10:45 AM

Just realized I didn’t respond to this.

For my 120lbs worth of dog, I spend $14 on flea shots, $4 on poop bags (you can also buy a “jaws of life for $23, which cleans up the poop and you can flush it down the toilet and rinse off the scooper for cheaper), and anywhere from $23 to $53 on food each month, depending on the brand we buy (literally… for a 35lb bag of food, i’ll either buy the $23 brand or the $53 brand. I’ve bought both.) I give them our bones, so no need to buy them and they don’t really like much more than the average tennis ball in the way of toys. That’s monthly (except for the Jaws of Life.) A pair of $10 collars, a pair of $7 leashes, an $8 fur brush (Huskies “blow their coats” and it’s better to brush the fur off now than sweep it out of your kitchen later), and the needle/thread/stuffing I used to make their dog pillows? Maybe $25.

I’m more pissed off about all the money I spent on toilet paper, thinking my child was using a roll every time she went #2, than I am on what I spend on my 120lbs worth of dog. ROFL

Make no mistake about it, a dog is definitely a financial commitment. However, a mid-size dog – something from, say, 25-45lbs? Sushi is about 45lbs now – you might spend MAYBE a third or 2/5ths of what I spend monthly on a pet. Your 35lb bag of dog food might last you 10wks instead of the 6 it lasts me. Using services like Wag or Petco who use both coupons AND free shipping make life FAR easier… and cheaper!

Paulette April 30, 2012 - 5:49 PM

I very much enjoyed this posting. I laughed until I cried in response to what the dogs will do to your house if you don’t walk them.

I have always told my son that we aren’t home enough for a dog and it would be unfair for the dog. Is it okay to leave a dog home all day alone? Maybe we should rethink this one.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 30, 2012 - 7:48 PM

You’ve got to research the breeds, because while some dogs can handle extended periods of time alone, many can’t. MY dogs would lose their marbles if they went more than a few hours alone without being walked properly first. If you were willing to get up early in the morning to run/walk your dogs extensively before you left for the day, you very well might be golden. If not? Make sure your dog can withstand enough time alone to manage.

We wound up getting Sala because we wanted a “sister” for Sushi to hang with when we weren’t home, but they would literally fight if left alone for too many hours without activity first… so trust me. The walking makes allll the difference. (You could also crate the dog on the occasional day you couldn’t get the walk in, but you don’t want to make a habit of that.)

vintage3000 May 1, 2012 - 12:51 PM

So true on all points, esp. your endless laughter advice. I have a black lab mix and a blond cocker spaniel (who swears he’s a pit, I imagine him doing the gangsta lean with his floppy ears bopping along). Random people have come up to us and named them Salt & Pepa, Mutt & Jeff, Lady & Tramp, etc. and it always brightens my day no matter how sucky. One of my fave stories, we were walking in my Brooklyn neighborhood and saw a group of tough looking dudes on their way somewhere. When they walked past us, the biggest of the group, with all the tats, frowhawk, etc kept looking back at us. Finally he stopped and rushed over to us and yelled “POOCHES GET SMOOCHES!!” while he and my dogs did a big group hug, face licking and all. Me and all his boys ftfo. The lab was from one of the best animal shelters in the country, North Shore in Long Island. She helped me get through my mother’s death. The cocker was a stray I found on my way to work almost 9 years ago. They have forced me out of my shell, saving my life.

I’m so glad your family has found these furbabies; thank you for writing this and sharing these wonderful photos. Esp the one with your baby dog whisperer. Sorry for long post, stories like yours always make me so happy.

Erika Nicole Kendall May 1, 2012 - 12:53 PM

Dude. Long comments are totally welcome here. TOTALLY welcome. <3

Ashleigh B. February 15, 2013 - 4:39 PM

Pooches get smooches?!!!!! I died laughing at that one! Whew!

PoeticSR May 11, 2012 - 10:18 AM

My family just got our first dog from the Super Adoption in White Plains a few weeks ago. I have a six year old and do not plan on having any other kids so I figured a dog is just what she needed. But I wanted a small dog who would fit well with her. We came home with our newest baby boy Marvin, a 2 year old chihuahua from Oklahoma. He was hit by a car which resulted in a broken pelvis so instead of getting care for him, his previous owner tossed him in the trash. He was rescued and is all healed up and is the BEST thing that we could have done for our family! He’s fun and loving and definitely keeps us going. I agree they keep you in shape. I need to lose about 20 pounds and I have been running and walking so much in the last week and a half that while I’m a bit achy I can already feel myself getting stronger. I’ve decided that once he is over his bout with bronchitis, he will be my jogging/walking buddy. He loves to run so we both benefit. As far as keeping a dog in the house all day it does depend on the breed and the specific dog temperment. Marvin does pretty well while we are gone but the moment he hears us come in after work he’s ready to go! We walk him early before we leave for work and school and as soon as we get home. If one of us is home early he gets a special trip to the dog park to play and meet new friends. I never thought I would be such a dog adoption advocate but it truly is rewarding for everyone!

Redladystl October 19, 2012 - 6:40 PM

I want 2 Boxers so bad. I already have names for them but, I have to wait till I buy or rent a house with a yard.

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