For a Self-Proclaimed Workaholic, an Adopted Dog Brings Balance and Joy

Nocona was the breath of fresh air her family needed most.

Clare + Nocona

A self-proclaimed “recovering workaholic,” Clare adopted Nocona to go on adventures with her husband. Little did she know that Nocona would end up changing her life for the better, too.

"I can wholeheartedly say that my life changed after that day. Although my husband loved taking Nocona out to parks and hiking, it was me who finally found my life outside of work in our newly adopted family member."

I have to admit it: I’m a recovering work-a-holic. Back in 2015, I was becoming increasingly obsessed with my job. After 12-plus hour work days, my husband would often (unsuccessfully) attempt to distract me by telling me non-work stories, while I buried my head in my laptop at the dinner table. I was constantly putting off outings with friends or declining invites to parties, instead I was just an exhausted bundle of no-fun stress. I quickly realized that when friends or family asked me how things were going, I only could answer with work talk, which predictably was followed with yawns and forced smiles in an attempt to be polite.

Nocona the dog

Recognizing that I literally needed to “get a life,” I found myself late night Googling topics like: “Hobbies for busy people.” My searches were a bust, and I was left with an overflowing work planner and friends that I hadn’t seen in months. Suddenly, my husband started talking about adopting an outdoorsy dog. He would excitedly describe all that he wanted to do with this future pup: jogging, hiking, and kayaking! We could take her out to that cool new dog friendly spot down the street! One Saturday, we went to the Petco adoption center and fell in love with a little Australian Cattle Dog mix. She was just 2 months old, and 10 pounds of cuddly cuteness. Knowing that she would be a big, athletic dog, we adopted my husband’s future adventure buddy, Nocona.

Nocona the dog with Clare

I can wholeheartedly say that my life changed after that day. Although my husband loved taking Nocona out to parks and hiking, it was me who finally found my life outside of work in our newly adopted family member. Nocona was born deaf, but this didn’t slow her down at all. Anytime I got too wrapped up in work stress, Nocona would push her head into my lap and after one look into those eyes, I shut my laptop and out we went. Nocona and I go out just about every weekend, exploring new hiking trails, or stretches of the river on our kayak. She keeps me active after work, with post-work jogs to burn off the day’s stress. After we adopted Nocona, my mood completely changed. I was out laughing with my friends again, enjoying dog friendly patios and parks on the weekend. My husband and I have had some incredible road trips with Nocona to the Grand Canyon, the Colorado mountains, and the Pacific Ocean, just to name a few! Nocona has made me more productive at work because I’m not anxious all the time. She has helped me reconnect with my friends and family, and I’ve learned to love life and live in the present. In reflecting on her adoption and writing this story, I realized that we didn’t adopt Nocona for my husband—she was for me all along. She gave me the life that I was looking for this entire time.

Nocona the dog playing frisbee

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Clare won San Antonio Pets Alive in Texas a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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