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How My Dogs Made Me a Better Person

20130426_204828I would be the first to admit that I am not a sensitive person by nature. It’s been said many a time that I didn’t care about my past girlfriends, and even my own family has accused me of being too detached. I wont make any excuses for the way I lived my life for the first 28 years, but I am here to tell you today that I’ve made amazing progress if for no other reason than the fact that two dogs came into my life and turned it upside down.

I was raised like many Korean males. The son of a stoic immigrant family that saw the value of hard work and the opportunity that America presented to those willing to be diligent. Grades were always high up on the list and sharing feelings was not. I grew up largely keeping myself busy. My parents were constantly working and it was rare that I saw the two of them together in the same room. We took the annual family trip and had a grand ol’ time while we were together, but work always came before play and for my parents there wasn’t much play in that equation.

So why am I reporting all this to you now? Good question. I think the answer lies in the fact that I know that others have this same condition. They don’t like acknowledging that they feel emotions in one way or another. A common symptom, and one that I exhibit myself, is that I tend to deflect questions about how I’m doing or how I’m feeling. Now that I think about it, the man I hold in the highest esteem and regard, my late father, was the same way. The only emotion he chose to express with frequency was anger. Don’t get me wrong, he had an awesome sense of humor and was a conversationalist of note in most social circles, but his often stoic nature belied the emotion that stirred beneath the surface.

In any case, about a year ago I got my first dog. She is a husky/retriever mix and probably the cutest thing I had ever seen on four paws. It was a game changer for me. Even those around me said that they noticed the change. They saw me being affectionate, being sensitive to their needs, and even talking to them in the goo-goo-ga-ga voice we so often hear when people speak to babies. One friend pointed out jokingly that it took a true bitch to unlock that side of me and much to my surprise, she was right.

So what is it about raising dogs that changed me? I think it has a lot to do with the idea that there is an infant that depends on me. Not just for entertainment or a sounding board to run ideas off of, but truly needs me. That in and of  itself helped me feel the gravity of the responsibility but also opened me up to all the joys of this faux parenthood I pushed myself into. It’s really an amazing thing. I think the other big thing that I experienced was the joy of coming home to my dogs (I now have two) and seeing the joy and excitement in their eyes… every time.

Now, I’m not saying that my journey toward becoming a better person is complete by any means. I know that I have to grow more as a person, but I thank the heavens I decided to adopt these two angels. Clearly, I have learned so much more from their relatively short involvement in my life than I have taught them in the entirety of theirs (they’re not particularly well trained haha). I still look forward to seeing them every day, I love working while they lay at my feet waiting for me to finish and play with them.

Yes, I still come home every day to clean up the little mounds of odoriferous goodness they leave around the yard throughout the day, I still have to chase them around the neighborhood when they get out (I still can’t figure out how they do), and I can honestly say that I’ve had my share of OMG-what-the-hell-happened-to-my-house moments… but I can say that all that trouble is worth it. For me at least.

Alex S. Pak
A young professional with a passion for rhetoric. He was born and raised in Southern California where he attended high school and college. Alex focused his studies on the humanities and is a keen observer of the human condition. In is spare time, enjoys reading, watching movies, and partying like a rock star.

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