I was never a “dog person” growing up. It's not that I didn't find them cute, we just never had a dog in my house, so I never really formed that connection.
Plus, I was a puny, little kid who was often scared of his own shadow, so a barking dog on the sidewalk usually forced me to cross the street.
Fast-forward 15 years and I can't even sleep without my dog cuddled up next to me or at least within petting distance. What caused the change? I'll give you a hint, it starts with a “G” and it ends with an “-irlfriend.” I mean who else but a girlfriend could make a guy do a complete 180 and change his whole lifestyle?
While the dog was originally hers, it's safe to say it's our dog now. My friends often ask me if I'm with my girlfriend because of her or because of her dog. Hey, has no one seen “Jerry Maguire”?
If there's one thing I've learned living with my girlfriend the past six months (besides making sure to ALWAYS put cups on a coaster, never tell her when you find a cockroach, and the name of every character on Bravo) is that having a dog when you first move in together is the ultimate buffer.
Moving in together is a huge step in any couple's relationship. Sure, most of us have lived with roommates before, but I doubt most of us shared a room, let alone a bed, blanket and sometimes toothbrush with our roommates.
Moving in together is a complete lifestyle transition. Even if you've technically been sleeping at each other's place the past year, it's NOT the same.
At the end of the day, if there was a fight you knew in the back of your mind you had another place to go, if you fight once you move in, you better make up fast or find a comfortable street corner to spend the night on.
Having a dog is the easiest way to transition from living alone to living with your significant other. Who wouldn't want to take the jump into the most potentially frightening and different stage of life with a furry little friend for support?
It's not even as much of the whole, “Let's pretend it's our baby and see if we can be good parents one day” type of thing, though that is a nice bonus.
It's more of the “let's have something adorable we can both share that will suck up any tension in the room whenever we get into an argument” type of thing.
I've grown so attached to our dog that my girlfriend often complains I'm more excited when I get home to see him than I am to see her.
I argue in all fairness, if every time I came home she jumped up and down, ran toward me, started licking me, rolled over and begged me to touch her, I'd be more excited to see her, too!
The love you get from a dog is endless and it reminds you the importance of showing affection and love for your partner as well.
Our dog continues to bring us closer every day, as we constantly talk about him, show pictures of him to our friends and buy him stuffed animals (he'll most likely rip apart) any chance we get.
Dogs provide a shared experience for couples as they embrace their future together.
Whether it's divvying up responsibilities of who walks him when, who feeds him and who takes him to get groomed, a dog adds a whole new dynamic to a relationship that helps mask some of the hardships of initially taking that plunge of moving in together. Besides, what situation can't an adorable puppy salvage?
I can already hear those cat-lovers out there purring, “What about cats!?” Well, don't most people with cats die alone? KIDDING! I'll never be a “cat guy” (I even walked out of "CATS" on Broadway), but I suppose a cat could have the same effect on a couple as well.
The only reason I'd suggest a dog is that dogs require more attention, so the more attention you give to the dog, the less attention you give to the stupid little arguments and nuisances couples so often bicker about.
Could I have still have moved in with my girlfriend and been happy had we not had a dog? Of course, our feelings toward each other can trump any obstacle in our way.
But did having a dog make it a heck of a lot easier to make the transition from getting stoned with my roommates while eating cheese doodles and watching football to drinking wine with my girlfriend while eating a cheese plate and watching “Vanderpump Rules”? You bet your damn ass it did.
All in all, moving in with your significant other is a step you should embark on with a dog. Just his presence alone makes the whole process a lot less ruff.