Who Needs Hobbies? I Have Dogs!


When asked what my hobbies are, I cringe a little. The truth is: I don’t have any hobbies — I have a dog and a pet-sitting business. They take up all of my hobby time.

I can’t really remember what I did before Riggins, my 10-year-old German Shorthair Pointer, was in my life. I have vague memories of spending Saturdays at the beach, reading a book, and hopping around in the waves. I think I may have been more independent, taking weekend trips to Palm Springs — by myself. As I said, I don’t really remember because those activities stopped once Riggins became a part of my life and all activities, or at least most, needed to be dog-friendly!

When I became a mom and everything became all about Riggins.
When I became a mom, everything became all about Riggins. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

When I had a 9-5 office job (which, to be honest, wasn’t really 9-5 since I was a salesperson winging around the U.S., but you get the idea), my hobbies aged with Riggins. Pre-Riggins I was running 5Ks. When Riggins was a puppy, those runs turned into long walks to exhaust his puppy crazies. Once he learned to pace me, I went back to running, this time with a four-legged partner.

At that point, I would have considered myself a runner, and many weekends I’d actually let Riggins sleep in while I headed out to a race. When Riggins got too old to continue pounding the pavement safely, I got depressed. Not only was it a sign he was getting older, it also meant my hobby went from something “we” did to something I’d have to do alone.

I took that time to branch out and train for triathlon sprints. On the weekends, I’d go for a bike ride or swim, then come home and take Riggins for a hike before heading our for a run. In between activities, I’d say to myself, “Just change your shirt and get back out there.” I knew if I sat down, I’d be down for the count!

With the help of my very supportive parents, though, Riggins was never left out of my triathlon races and was always there to cheer me on. My poor dad would have to hold onto his leash with all the strength he had to keep my baby boy from joining me on the last sprint to the finish line.

My dad and Riggins hang out with me pre-race.
My dad and Riggins hang out with me pre-race. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

Running was a great hobby, and I loved it until I became a dog sitter. It’s an exhausting career, and the thought of going for a run or bike ride seems like it would take a level of energy I just don’t have in me. Not to mention if I ditched exercising the pack for human-only exercise, I’d come back to a house torn to shreds!

I also used to love to read. It was the best, and something I did every night before going to bed. Now, after I arrange myself around all the little furry bodies and my head finally hits the pillow, I’m out! My unread books are collecting dust under my nightstand.

I can’t really cross stitch like I used to, either, because there is normally a dog in my lap. If not my sweet Riggins, then one of our clients. Cuddling Riggins is much more satisfying than crafting, anyway!

Any additional time I have is spent on chores. I used to go to the movies. I’d love to bury myself into a theater seat, put my hoodie up, and dive into a bag of popcorn. I don’t have time for that anymore. I have to vacuum, or change sheets covered in dog hair, or mop the kitchen floor, or dust (the difference between the amount of dust in a non-dog house and that of a multi-dog house is amazing).

I realize non-dog people have chores, too, but when I asked once on my Facebook page who has to clean more, parents of human kids or doggie kids, the overall response was that dog parents had the harder cleaning job, hands down.

Riggins isn't on my lap, but everyone else is!
Riggins isn’t on my lap, but everyone else is! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

So, what are my dog-related hobbies?

  • Cuddling with Riggins. Sure, I’ll happily cuddle with one of my clients, but there is nothing I love more than burying my face into my baby boy’s fur while spooning him.
  • Hiking with Riggins. Riggins has taught me a number of things, but loving hiking is one of the best. I was NOT an outdoors person at all before Riggins. Clean air and me did not mix. Now I’m out and about all the time. I actually own hiking shoes and a day pack, and I can’t imagine a life where I wouldn’t need those two things.
    My hiking buddy and me.
    My hiking buddy and me. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
  • Writing about Riggins. I started a blog called Me Myself & Riggins to catalog our life together. At one point, I wrote in it daily, but if you click on the link you can see I haven’t been keeping up with it. That’s because I now write the weekly Pet Parenting column you are reading right now. It’s all about my baby boy and being his mom — a subject I am an expert at.

As it turns out, I may not have a traditional hobby. Certainly not one found on a list in a survey. I can no longer click on “running” or “needlepoint” or even “movie watching.” It doesn’t matter, though, because I have the best hobby in the world.

I’m Riggins’ mom!

How have you integrated your dog into your hobbies? Let us know in the comments!

Read more about pet parenting:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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