The Fruitful Life

My Dog Changed My Life

My Dog Changed My Life

In loving memory.

Nothing's better than coming home to a furry friend, but did you know that caring for your pup can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle? Pets can cheer us up, comfort us when we’re sad, and walking them gives us exercise too! This week, we sought out health enthusiast and dog-lover Clint Genet, whose pet helped him live a healthier lifestyle.

FY: Hello Clint, tell me about your dog. Was he named after the late philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche?

We get that a lot. His name could definitely be related to the philosopher, but actually my brother was a huge football fan – especially for Green Bay. He was living in rural Texas, when he found out that two local dogs were going to be sold as fight dogs. [To save them,] he bought the dogs, and together they had a litter. Nitschke was a product of that litter. My brother named him after late, great Ray Nitschke: a Hall-of-Fame line-backer for the Green Bay Packers. He became mine when my brother passed away.

FY: Inheriting him from your brother, did you notice he helped you with grieving?

Absolutely, he’s easily turned into the most important part of my life. With my brother gone, I refer to him as my brother, and decided to raise him the way my brother raised me. We play rough. I take him everywhere I can, and try to support and be there for him. We do have our little fights, but that’s just the way it is when you have a brother. In a way, he ignites my brother’s energy into life. Sometimes he acts really frisky and I say, “now you’re just being Ron!” and I love it.

FY: That’s beautiful. How did your brother know he was the one?

My brother used to start his day super early, turn on the sports channel, and sit out on the deck. Out of the whole litter, this dog was the one who would follow him outside, and sit at his feet. My brother found good homes for the other dogs, but he knew this one was his. His qualities are that of companionship, togetherness, and fun. With children and older dogs, he shows a great deal of calmness and empathy. I respect his feelings and give him love, and it works out for us. He is 60 pounds of love. As long as he’s near you, touching you, and connected he feels really good. He enjoys coming up on the couch, and putting his paw on you.

FY: How has your animal friend inspired you to be a healthier person?

OMG I mean, that’s just it right there. I’ve always gravitated towards making healthy choices, like yoga and eating right. Having him has really helped lock in that consistent, everyday thing. A year ago, I was not a runner. I worked a lot in Madison, and felt stressed. I wanted to work out, cook, do this and that, but my main thought was getting home to Nitschke. One day I realized, I have a dog that loves to play, I just have to get him to run with me – not ahead of or through me!

First thing in the morning, he likes to do business and head home. Then I get the day organized, and reflect on gratitude. He’s always on that list! After work, we run a 3 mile loop by Montrose, Foster, and Hollywood Beach. Now we’re on that cycle; the more routine, the better it is for dogs. After our runs, I feel better and committed to more areas of health. I’m not going to eat a big sloppy breakfast! Instead, I have a smoothie. After work, he looks at me like he knows it’s time to go running! I’m also more apt to hit the gym later in the day.

FY: Has your relationship effected other areas of your life?

In hindsight, I have a history of handling stress and grief in ways that are not the healthiest. When I lose track of commitments to self-betterment, stress and grief manifest. Then, I might drink more, and forget to work out, pray, and meditate. Important things get clouded in my path. Having Nitschke insured I’d come straight home to him, instead of meeting with a friend for a drink. Being responsible for him helped me bypass things that cloud my practice. I now make choices that put me in a position to devote time, love, and energy to him.

FY: How would you compare friendship with animals to friendship with people?

Dogs hold no grudges, and they’re always living in the present. In fact, last night when I was overwhelmed with to-dos, he sighed like, “This is boring for me.” I sat on the floor and he came over right away with his chew toy. We played, and he smiled wagging his tail for two minutes, enjoying that. I felt the need to get back, but decided no we need to be fully present.

Back to friendships. You are what you surround yourself with. For people, it’s often hard to be a true representation of kindness in the now. My relationship with Nitschke is SUPPORTIVE and inspires me to be my best self. Because of him, my gate is open for more people like that. He is a representation of what I want my friendships to be.

FY: If you could communicate one message to your dog, what would it be?

I’d like him to know I’m here for him; he has nothing to fear as long as I’m in his life. As soon as he sees my bag come out of the closet, he becomes concerned that I’m leaving him. Thinking back, he moved a lot, and one of those moves was when my brother passed. When he sees my backpack out, he thinks he’s leaving me, and I see the worry on his face. He doesn’t eat or want to go out as much when I go. In that state of anxiety, I’d like to tell him I got his back, and he’s completely taken care of. I pick good people to watch him, and when I leave I’m coming back. I’d also tell him I’m grateful for him, even if he hogs whole bed. He’s first one I say good morning to, and the first I say “move your butt” to.

 

*Content contained in this article is not intended to provide or to constitute medical or healthcare advice. Nor can it be relied upon as preventative care, cure, or treatment for any disease or medical condition. You should consult a qualified healthcare professional for advice regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and before starting any supplementation, nutritional, exercise, or other medical programs.


Comments

  • Sharon Wong June 8, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing how you & your dog help each other have a better & healthier life!

    • Michelle Wong June 13, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Sharon, we'll pass along your kind words!

  • Dawn Staedt June 8, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Wonderful article on Life With A Dog by Clint Genett. Nitschke is lucky to have Clint as his big brother, watching his back while running and living the good life in Chicago.

    • Michelle Wong June 11, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Yes, Dawn - Clint is a great friend to have!

  • Rosemary Nisbet June 19, 2018 at 6:39 am

    I really liked the interview. I love how you described the way you and your dog communicate. They know more about our lives and habits than some people realize. I know that my dog has made my life better, maybe not by riding a motorcycle, but just as good.

    Thank you for sharing this touching part of your life.

    • Michelle Wong June 19, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Yes, their bond is pretty amazing! We're glad you connected with Clint's story, he'll be so pleased to hear it.

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