Ever since my Chihuahua, Bella, entered my life seven years ago I have learnt so many lessons, such as loving myself and gaining responsibility. I know for a fact that without my best friend I would be a completely different person.
The first thing I have learnt is patience, teaching your dog to be house-trained takes a lot of time and effort. It is not a one day job, it is something that has to be repeated every day until they are confident with what you are teaching them. Sometimes you will get frustrated, especially at the start when you’re spending money on pet treats and giving up half of the chicken on your plate. However, there is an intense pride that swells in my chest when I see Bella pull off a command that I have been teaching her for days. I then know that all my patience has worked out and that if this is the rewarding feeling that I get after every time I pace myself with life then I should apply it more.
The next thing I learnt is that it is ok to speak about your problems. There are times when I just want to talk to someone and for them just to listen and the good thing about animals is that they can’t talk back. Being able to lay on my bed, have Bella beside me and release all of the emotions that I have bottled inside is such a relief. It keeps my mind and body healthy and gives me the strength to tackles anything because I know that I have a little bundle of joy waiting for me at home.
Another thing Bella has taught me is to love myself and accept me for who I am. Growing up, I was never comfortable or happy with myself, never looked in the mirror for too long and made sure that I never stood out. However, it was (and will always be) uplifting to know that I could come home and be myself around Bella and feel comfortable in her presence. One day, I came across a fact about dogs that said they are the only animal that will love you more than they love themselves. This made me wonder how something so small and pure could love me with all their being and I could not even look at myself in the mirror for more then five seconds? From then on, I promised myself and my dog that I will be better to myself and learn to love me for who I am.
Additionally, I feel like I have gained a lot of responsibility from being a dog mum. There are a lot of jobs that come with caring for a furry little one: feeding, water refills, washing, brushing, nail care, dental care, a lot of cleaning, health care, walking and making sure they are happy. It takes a while to get used to everything and can be quite overwhelming at first, however, seven years down the line and it has all become second nature to me. To have these responsibilities has made other aspects of my life better, my grades shot up, I became more confident in my own actions and accountability and for once felt like I had a purpose in life. Also, to take responsibility for someone else seemed to awaken this passion inside to also take care of myself. For example, giving Bella her lunch reminds me that I need to eat. Much like learning to love myself, I knew that if I wanted to be able to care for another then I would have to take care of myself as well.
One day this will all come crashing down; one day I will lose all this because one day I will have to learn to grieve. Nothing lasts forever and it is painful to think that one day I won’t hear the clicking of her nails on the floor, or the jingle of the bell on her cat collar we had to get her because she is too small for a puppy one. However, that’s life and loved ones come and go, but I will always have the memories and I will always smile knowing I have learnt a lot about myself and life because of my best friend, Bella.