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Love, Self-Discovery and Second Chances: Adopting a Rescue Dog for Personal Growth

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

During times of upheavals and chaotic change, where the goal posts seem to shift every day, we find ourselves constantly thrust into the change curve. Whether newly divorced, or recently widowed, we know that just as we make progress and begin to adapt, another wave of change pulls us back to the start, generating emotional responses and unhelpful behaviors. Fear, anxiety, anger, and frustration can consume us, in addition to the crippling grief felt. As we grapple with the newly imposed realities of our lives, we can find In the midst of this chaos, one pathway to create a sense of calm, routine and stability. The answer for you may lie in adopting a rescue dog. Let me explain my reasoning.

The change curve, originally developed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, outlines the emotional states we move through during transitions: shock, denial, anger, depression, experimentation, hope & decisions, and acceptance in a new future.

These stages parallel the journey of a rescued dog as they transition from a traumatic past to a new life filled with love and care. The parallel experiences of both humans and dogs navigating the change curve create a profound opportunity for connection, personal growth, and self-discovery. As we go through some big life changes such as divorce, it is not unheard of to think of adopting a dog in need. In addition to the personal growth and self-discovery, adopting a rescue dog offers numerous benefits for our mental wellbeing. Dogs have an innate ability to provide unconditional love, offering a sense of companionship and emotional support. The presence of a dog can reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, and promote a sense of purpose and routine in our lives. Taking care of their needs, such as exercise and playtime, encourages us to engage in physical activity and enjoy the outdoors, further enhancing our mental and physical wellness.

When we adopt a rescue dog, we embark on a journey that mirrors our own emotional transition. These dogs often come from backgrounds of neglect or abuse, experiencing their own shock, denial, and anger. As we provide them with a safe and loving environment, we witness their transformation, just as we undergo our own. The process of healing a traumatized dog helps us recognize our own emotional states and navigate them with empathy and understanding.

As we progress along the change curve with our adopted dogs, we learn valuable lessons about ourselves. We develop patience and compassion as we guide them through their stages of understanding and acceptance. The challenges we encounter along the way mirror our own struggles and teach us resilience, adaptability, and the ability to find joy amidst adversity. In helping these dogs heal, we discover our own capacity for growth, empathy, and love.

Moreover, the presence of a rescue dog in our lives contributes significantly to our mental wellbeing as we navigate the change curve. They become a source of companionship, offering unwavering support, and reducing feelings of aloneness. anxiety, and depression. The bond we form with our adopted dogs serves as an anchor in times of uncertainty, reminding us of the goodness and love that exist in the world.

As we integrate the change curve with our journey of adopting rescue dogs, we find ourselves on a transformative path of connection, wellbeing, and self-discovery. By recognizing the stages of the change curve in both our own lives and the lives of our furry companions, we can navigate the emotional turmoil with greater empathy and understanding. Our resilience that we develop through the process of healing our adopted dogs aligns with our own personal growth and helps us find a sense of calm amid chaos. In adopting a rescue dog, we not only provide them with a second chance at life but also give ourselves the gift of companionship, purpose, and a mirror to navigate the ever-changing landscape of life. Together, we forge a bond that transcends the change curve, offering us a lifetime of love, lessons, and an unbreakable connection.


1 - Oka K,Shibata A. Dog ownership and health-related physical activity among Japanese adults. J Phys Act Health.2009;6(4):412-8

2- Cutt H, Giles-Corti B, Knuiman M, Timperio A, Bull F. Understanding dog owners’ increased levels of physical activity: results from RESIDE. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(1):66-9.

3- Dembicki D, Anderson J. Pet ownership may be a factor in improved health of the elderly. J Nutr Elder. 1996;15(3):15-31. doi: 10.1300/J052v15n03_02. PMID: 8948954.

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