I used to spend money on only two things: stuff for myself and gifts for others. Then I adopted Winston, a wire-haired terrier who'd been given up by his owner because he "cost a lot," which he does, but bringing a dog into my life has been totally worth it. Here's why.
1. You exercise more.
I work from home, so I could stay in my pajamas and slippers all day if I didn't have Winston, who needs at least a couple of walks and sometimes a long run each day. And that's just the obvious exercise. I also have to chase him when he's playing keep-away with something gross he unearthed in the backyard, run sprint intervals when he slips out of previously undiscovered holes in the fence, and vacuum up all his hair and mop his muddy paw prints twice a week. He's basically a personal trainer in a fur coat.
2. You become a better communicator.
My husband and I merged our Google calendars after getting Winston, because if one of us had an event, the other had to get home to let out the dog. We've had to make a lot of joint decisions that require compromise: for example, whether or not to crate Winston, let him off-leash at the dog park, and give him our leftover yogurt containers to lick clean (yes, yes, and yes). And we've also had to communicate with all kinds of strangers, including children, sidewalk psychics, and drunken concertgoers who want to pet, hug, and wrestle with Winston. (Dog ownership is also good for learning to set boundaries.)
3. You learn to be less rigid.
"I'll never buy fancy toys or hire a trainer," I said. "I'll just give him sticks and teach him to sit," I said. Then I hired a trainer because Winston howled for hours every time I left and chewed the couch cushions the second I stepped in the shower. And the trainer recommended a bunch of the fancy toys I used to make fun of and now swear by. The moral of the story is that "God" in that Yiddish proverb "We plan, God laughs" could easily be replaced with "dog."
4. You start racking up the likes.
Once you get a dog, you have a muse, which means you can stop taking pictures of sunsets and latte art. And people are 38 percent more likely to double tap a picture with a face, so you earn a little self-esteem boost, too. A few people might eventually get sick of looking at pictures of your dog, but you'll keep posting them anyway because you're blinded by love. And because you've earned it after looking at a billion pictures of their baby/vacation/manicure.
5. You stop holding grudges.
Winston has chewed the leather rug my friend brought back from Africa, then thrown up on it. He's pestered me so ruthlessly, I resorted to trying to distract him with a chew toy covered in melted Velveeta cheese, which exploded in the microwave and smelled worse than a dead body for days. He's taken what looks like a shark bite out of my very expensive yoga mat. Every time, I've stayed mad for maybe three minutes and then kissed his tiny snout again, even though I worry I'm rubbing off his fur Velveteen Rabbit–style. After all, who needs yoga when a dog brings so much light to your life — and burns more calories to boot?