Many many things.
I've had dogs my whole life, as well as horses. My animals in general, from the beginning, showed me the meaning of love, responsibility, and of course since I was very active in different sports... good sportsmanship. Win, lose, or draw, they never cared.... they just had fun. They were my best friends, my shoulder to cry on when life got rough. They saw me through grade school, my parents divorce, college, friends/relationships, my first car, the house, my first new car..... everything! They were always there for me...
My GSDs have given me security... I feel safe with these dogs with me. When I'm alone at home, or my SO is out of town... I can actually sleep at night. I can walk again at night after work and not feel scared to leave my property.
With my anxiety, it got rough at times. I didn't really want to get out, or meet anyone new. I was nervous around strangers and it was hard for me to go out in public. However, once I got my first GSD, I was living on my own and had no choice but to go out and get their stuff, talk to people, and eventually even met others with the same breed going through the same stuff. With Zira, I had no choice but to reach out to others. Her health and mental issues were too overwhelming to deal with on my own. I no longer have any huge problems with my anxiety and have a very normal lifestyle.
And most important... these guys opened the doors for me to a sport I've been wanting to do since I was a kid. I now have the opportunity to learn Schutzhund, train dogs in other sports, and also now have made a large network of breeders, trainers, owners, other members of the sport, etc. This has allowed me to enter a whole new world of different things to explore. Without them, this wouldn't have happened. They've taught me so much about ownership, training, and the breed in general.
My dogs... every one of them, from every breed I've owned, has changed my life in some way. Without them, I don't know what I would have done.
-Pakros von Jagenstadt "Duke" (01/06/10) -CGC