Eddie, my family’s Jack Russell Terrier, was the best dog and my favorite playmate. I miss him so much and am so thankful for all that he taught me. Here are 7 things I learned from having Eddie as a pet.

    1. Why it’s important to pitch in. Learning to care for Eddie as a puppy helped me learn that others rely on me. Eddie needed to be fed, walked, and groomed on a regular basis. Everyone in my family had to pitch in order to take care of Eddie and keep him happy.
    2. Eddie taught me that friendship and our ability to love extends to other species. Through having a pet like Eddie I learned about the rewards of bonding. The more attention I gave to Eddie, and the more I put into my relationship with him, the more I got out of it. Although I was too young to realize it at the time, Eddie taught me why it’s important to try my hardest. I also learned how to be compassionate and empathetic toward other living things. Eddie was my best friend and my most loyal companion. I’ll never forget the bond we shared.
    3. Life is short. When Eddie passed away, I was just a little kid. I remember how sad I felt when I learned Eddie was gone forever and that I would never see him or play with him again. But I’m also glad that my parents were honest about Eddie’s death (they didn’t tell me he went away to a farm). Instead, they took the opportunity to explain why it’s important for us to appreciate the people and pets we love while they’re still here. Seeing Eddie pass away was really hard, but I know he had a long and happy life as a member of our family. I am thankful I got to spend as much time with him as I did.
    4. Everybody has to learn how to respect the preferences and personal space of others, and Eddie was a better teacher at this than my parents, brothers, friends, or babysitters were. Back when I was a baby and growing up as a kid, I had to learn how to be gentle when petting or playing with Eddie. I learned how to respect Eddie’s needs and wants. For example, I had to learn that he didn’t like to be disturbed while he was eating or sleeping. (I don’t blame him–neither do I!)
    5. The benefits of play and physical activity. It’s one thing to learn in gym class that it’s important to be active and to exercise. But Eddie showed me first-hand just how fun it is to run around outside, play tug-of-war, and chase after a pet in a game of tag. Eddie taught me that I don’t always have to be serious. It’s good to act silly and be a goofball from time to time!
    6. Forgiveness. Whenever I accidentally stepped on Eddie’s paw, or hurt him during a nail clipping session, or stuck my hand in his mouth to retrieve something gross he ate off the sidewalk, he always forgave me. All Eddie ever asked for from us was food, a warm place to curl up and sleep, and attention. Eddie was super affectionate with me and my brothers and personally, I think we got a pretty sweet deal out of this arrangement. When I think about the fact that Eddie never held a grudge, I remember why it’s important to forgive the people and pets we love.
    7. How to stick to a routine. Eddie helped me understand why it’s good to follow a consistent schedule. Sure, it was difficult to wake up early on weekend mornings to take Eddie outside for a walk when all I wanted to do was sleep late. But I loved waking up early after the fact, and feeling like I had the whole day ahead of me to do stuff. Being a pet owner taught me how to manage my time better, and why having structure in your life is a good thing.