There are lots of reasons to become a dog owner: Dogs are cute, they're fun to be around, they enrich your life by giving you the responsibility of taking care of someone who needs you, and you can save not one but two dogs' lives by adopting from a shelter (because it opens a space for another homeless dog). However, there's one huge benefit of owning a dog that may not have occurred to you: Your dog can make you more beautiful.
I know, I know. You're looking down skeptically at your black pants, covered in dog hair, and your sloppily-applied makeup because your dog made you run late this morning. It's true that dog ownership can be a terrible blow to one's appearance in many ways, but in the long-term it actually gives you so many beauty-related benefits.
When I first adopted my dog Doug almost a year ago, I thought I would never again have time to dedicate to putting on makeup, getting dressed up, and making myself look nice. It was a rough first month for us as we both adjusted. A year later, however, I've noticed whenever I glance in the mirror or see a recent photo of myself that I feel like I look prettier than ever, even as I've devoted less time to worrying about my appearance. How is that possible? It's all thanks to Doug.
Here are all the beautifying benefits that you may not realize your dog is imparting on you:
1. You Exercise More
Prior to adopting Doug, I have to admit I was a terrible couch potato. I still am in many ways (it's hard to avoid sitting all day when you're a writer who works from home) but I'm definitely more active now than I was before, and it's all thanks to Doug.
Even on wintery days when I normally would be tempted to stay in bed for hours, I have no choice but to make sure Doug gets his daily exercise. We'll go out for a quick walk in the yard and then we usually end up throwing a ball around for a while; or I'll take him to the dog park and run up and down the hill with him instead of sitting on the bench.
After getting a dog, I definitely feel more energized every day. Plus, taking breaks for fresh air helps me stay focused when I do have to be inside.
2. You Drink More Water
Water is so important for your overall health, and its beauty benefits are just one part of that. Your body and your skin can improve so much if you start drinking enough water every day.
I'm actually terrible at remembering to drink water, but having a dog has been surprisingly helpful in that regard. I have to refill his water bowl so often every day, which in turn reminds me that I could do with a glass of water too. Simple but effective, and I think my skin is clearer and more hydrated now because of it.
3. You Realize the Importance of Grooming
As a beauty writer, I think about grooming more than most people. Having a dog has given me some much-need perspective on the matter. On one hand, Doug has helped me realize the unimportance of so many products and rituals that women are told we need. Doug doesn't care if I don't shave my legs for a few weeks, nor does he treat me any differently if I'm wearing makeup or not.
On the other hand, women are also often judged for being too invested in grooming ourselves. It's a double-edged sword: don't wear enough makeup and you're unattractive or unprofessional, but care about makeup too much and suddenly you're vain.
Having a dog requires a lot of grooming. I brush Doug every day, I clip his nails, I brush his teeth, and I give him occasional baths when he rolls around in something smelly. All of these things make him look (and smell) nicer but they also keep him healthier and, in the case of having his fur brushed, extremely happy. Investing so much time in taking care of my dog's appearance helps me to remember to do the same for myself. I want my dog to look his best because I'm proud of how beautiful he is; so why be ashamed of feeling the same way about myself? It also reminds me to spend more time on the grooming rituals that make me happy (for Doug it's being brushed, and for me it's slathering fancy moisturizers all over my face).
4. Your Sleeping Schedule Improves
OK, this probably doesn't apply if you have a brand-new puppy who needs to be taken out to go potty several times a night. In fact, when I first got Doug he was two years old and already housebroken but I still barely got more than six hours of sleep the first couple of weeks. He was nervous and on edge (and so was I) so we both got up at 6 AM every day for no real reason. It took time for both of us to adjust before I was able to get back to my usual 8 hours a night.
Once that happened, however, I started to realize that my sleeping schedule has never been better. Dogs thrive when they have a reliable routine, so I now do my best to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule like that is one of the best things you can do for your health and your overall appearance. I feel less tired and look more awake too, which means I've been saving a lot of money on concealer and under eye cream this past year.
5. You Smile More (A Lot More)
Doug has a really happy resting face. This is probably just because he prefers to have his tongue hanging out of his mouth at all times, but whenever I see his doggy smile it makes me smile. I'm normally not very good at smiling genuinely for pictures; I'm self-conscious about my teeth, I'd rather smize, blah blah blah.
Recently, however, I noticed that I have a big goofy grin in almost every picture that I'm in with Doug — and I don't even mind. I look happy and so does he, and that's beautiful.
Images: Josh Kirby