After begging my parents for a dog my entire childhood, I finally decided, at the beginning of my second year of teaching, that I was officially an adult, so I adopted my first dog, the most adorable little Yorkie named Sumner. My Pup is 9 years old, small enough to carry in my purse, and the best little cuddle bug. I knew he’d totally change my life, but what I didn’t expect was what a huge positive effect he’d have on my teaching!
Having a dog makes you:
- Keep regular sleeping and eating times.
I can’t be the only teacher who forgets to eat or hits snooze one too many times in the morning. Having Pup makes me keep to a regular schedule all week–and weekend–long.
- Go home after school.
Year one I loved that secret quiet time I’d have at school after PD when all the other teachers left. I’d organize my room, clean the desks, wash my whiteboards, but what I wasn’t doing was going home to relax! With Pup, I know I need to go home to walk him, which is a necessary break for me, too.
- SLOW DOWN.
When’s the last time you took a 20 minute walk around the block with no destination in mind? How about never!? That was me, until Pup. Dogs need walks and fresh air, and it turns out humans do, too.
- Have good conversation starters.
Kids LOVE talking about their pets. You don’t grow out of that. I’ve had amazingly funny pet conversations with my students and their parents about their pets. And a cute puppy picture never hurt anyone.
- Watch your own health.
When I first adopted Pup, I felt like a nervous mother, checking him every 10 minutes to make sure he was ok. I’ve calmed down since, but paying attention to his health actually made me pay attention to my health more. Scheduling regular veterinary appointments made scheduling my doctors’ appointments feel routine.
- Be more compassionate.
When you feel calm and relaxed, you can be your best teacher-self! Dogs make calm and relaxed the new normal, and that’s certainly something to wag your tail for.