Skip to Content

Does every dog have a purpose?

Does your dog have a “job” or a purpose in life?

I do think every dog has a job to do, if given a chance.

My dog Ace has the very important role of being my emotional sidekick. He takes his job seriously, and I often wonder if he feels overwhelmed sometimes. Like, smothered by love.

It’s a tough job to be anyone’s moral support all the time, don’t you think?

When I adopted Ace, I was unhappy at my job, and I was depressed much of the time. He brought me to a better place just by giving me a new responsibility, new goals, a new routine.

He became my marathon training partner, and eventually with my husband’s encouragement I quit my job and started my dog running business and this blog. One of the best and most important decisions of my life.


Not only that, but Ace has helped socialize about a dozen dogs that would otherwise have very few or no dog friends.

He has the ability to remain easygoing even when another dog is tense or reactive. He has that fun, goofy energy without getting too excited, and other dogs seem to realize he is safe.

I did not train him to do this. I just noticed his ability and allowed him to use it.

So yes, Ace has a purpose, some very important jobs, and my life would be very different if I had not adopted him.

And cats?

Would I be crazy to think cats have jobs?

Tan tabby cat Beamer

My cat Beamer has lots of jobs.

For one, he is a great hunter. That may not seem like a very useful job for an indoor cat, but he is very good at his job.

So far, not a single crumb has lasted more than 30 seconds in any of our apartments. Not one, and it’s been nine years.

And like Ace, Beamer has been extremely helpful with socializing our foster dogs.

Of course, I would never put Beamer in a position where he would be unsafe. But, as soon as I bring a dog into a room with Beamer, I can tell right away by Beamer’s reaction how the dog is going to be around cats.

If the dog is nervous and excited, Beamer simply ignores it. He may even turn around and face the other way, basically saying this dog is not a threat. He knows when to calmly move away to safety or when to give a quick, firm smack.

He can read a dog so much better than I ever will, and he has been very helpful over the years. Never over-reacting. Never losing his cool.

And our little guy, Scout?

Gray tabby cat Scout

He is a companion. That may not seem complex, but it is.

I adopted Scout when I lived alone in a new town and literally needed another living creature to hold and love. I imagine that is why a lot of people adopt pets.

He met this need, curling up in my arms at night, sleeping right up against my chest. When I came home from a stressful day at work, he greeted me at the door with little mews. When I left again, he’d watch me from the window.

[quote_center]”Some people may not think of household pets as ‘working animals’ but I think they would be wrong.”[/quote_center]

Today, he curls up in my lap as I write. Or, he sleeps on the dog bed at my feet. He is always nearby, always wants to be where the people are gathering. (We call him The Creeper, actually.) I like that about him.

Scout makes us smile and laugh every day, usually at his expense, but that in itself is an important role.

Some people may not think of household pets as “working animals” but I think they would be wrong.

My pets are all working animals, in their own ways, and they do good work.

What do you think?

Do your pets have jobs or a purpose?

Don’t forget to sign up for That Mutt’s newsletter here.


Saturday 22nd of November 2014

My dogs provide me company, companionship, love, and trust. That absolutely have a purpose.


Friday 21st of November 2014

Thank you for this post. It really got me thinking about our Storm. Storm's job is to make us more responsible dog owners, laugh at his hyperactive antics, and help acclimate the fosters to life outside the shelter. We can also count on him to not let a crumb linger longer than five seconds. He is also a hunter and watchdog.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 21st of November 2014

Wow, he does have a lot of important roles. What a good dog! Isn't it nice when your dog gets along well with fosters?


Friday 21st of November 2014

Haley's job is both watchful protector and entertainer, but also an emotional sidekick too. Isn't it awesome to do something you love and are passionate about?

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 21st of November 2014

Yes it is!


Friday 21st of November 2014

I love this post. I had not really thought about my pets as having jobs, but you're right, they do. And each of them goes about her job responsibilities in her own unique way. Great post. And the photos are perfect. Aren't you glad Beamer is such a great hunter?

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 21st of November 2014

Because of Beamer there is a lot less cleaning to do I guess!


Friday 21st of November 2014

D.O.G.s job is to watch out for moose, bears, etc, and to alert us of people at the door. He's also my guard dog. He takes that job seriously. CV wasn't home one day and D.O.G. backed his best friend all the way to the gate. He's also our goofball and cuddlebug and keep away extroidinare!

Missy is a bred lap dog. She wants to be with you always. Though I am very impressed by how cool under pressure she is. Took her to an indoor playtime with big dogs last night and she held her own non-chalantly. Of course after about 30 mins she found a lap and snuggled up but I was truely amazed at how much she just rolls with the punches.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 21st of November 2014

Wow, D.O.G. really has an important job to keep you safe. Ace isn't much good for that. A bear ran across my parents' yard one time while Ace was in the front yard. He didn't even notice the bear because my brother was holding a tennis ball.

And Missy. Such a sweetheart. You should send a picture of her.