I’ve been fortunate enough to have many canine companions over the years and I’ve always been amazed at their simple outlook on life. As things get crazier and even more chaotic than usual around here with the start of school, I’ve been trying to channel some of that wisdom. You might not agree, but here are the Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dogs:
Relax Like You Mean It
Have you ever looked at your dog sprawled out in a patch of sunlight and wished for just a moment to trade places? Oftentimes while I’m whirling around the house like a human tornado, trying to get laundry done, work at the computer, prep for dinner and mop the floor, I’ll look over to see one of the pups bathing in the sun. Why can’t we stop and relax every once in a while? The sticky floor will wait. The laundry isn’t going anywhere. Dinner can be fifteen minutes late. It’s okay to sneak in a nap every once in a while. Even better if you curl up on the couch with a good book and a furry friend.
Trust Your Nose
Why do dogs sniff each other’s butts? They’re checking things out, getting a feel for the situation. If the dog on the receiving end of the butt sniff is chill and accommodating, then the butt sniffer knows all is well. We should pay attention to our senses more. Especially that sixth one: intuition. If things don’t “smell” right, it’s probably best to move on.
Dogs don’t see color. They don’t know how much things cost. They don’t care if their bowl is porcelain or a leftover ice cream bucket. They’re just as happy riding in a junker held together with duct tape and gum as they are hanging their head out of the window of a high-priced SUV. They don’t judge, they accept us for who we are. Be like a dog.
Break Through Your Barriers
We used to sing a song at Girl Scout camp. Something about how you’re trying to get somewhere but there’s something in your way. It went like this… can’t go over it, can’t go around it, gotta go through it. Anyone? Bueller? Hmm, well, the point is, dogs don’t let little things (or big things) stand in their way. They bust out and break through. Sometimes quite literally. Ever heard of dogged determination? No glass ceiling, door or even a baby gate can keep them from getting what they want. Channel that spirit!
Some Lessons Have to Be Learned More Than Once
Some even have to be learned more than twice, or ten times or fifty-seven-eleventy times. Don’t get down on yourself if you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again. You’ll get it eventually. I’ve been working with my dog on not stealing things off the counter or jumping on people for a solid year. One of these days it will click, I’m almost sure of it.
Treats Work Wonders
Need some extra motivation? My dog will do ridiculous things for a tiny piece of lunch meat or a stale dog biscuit. It’s important to provide incentives. I keep a sticker chart to track my writing days. If I hit my word count I get to slap a cute emoji sticker on my Dollar Store calendar. Exciting, right? For some reason those stickers really get me motivated. I’m not even going to tell you what I do when I finish a manuscript! Don’t feel bad about rewarding yourself for reaching milestones and goals. We’re wired that way. Go with it.
Let It Hang Out Like No One’s Watching
Dogs do what they need to do when they need to do it. Some are more discrete than others, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been embarrassed by a rescue mutt picking an inopportune time to tongue-bathe what’s left of his family jewels or an ill-timed canine gas blast. (Is there anything worse than a dog fart?) I’m not suggesting you go around expelling gas or performing contortionist activities. But aren’t we all a little too preoccupied with what other people think? Dogs aren’t.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Screwed
Ever been around that one dog at the dog park? You know the one… the humper? He’ll try mounting everyone and everything until someone puts him in his place. Neither one of my dogs ever just takes it. A little growl, a little nip, a little snap if necessary. They always stand up for themselves. We should do more of that too.
Don’t Hold Grudges
My pups could teach a masterclass on forgiveness. Either they have terrible short-term memories or they actually forgive and forget. Like instantaneously. They don’t like baths. But within thirty-seconds of being released from their leash after they’ve been soaped and sudsed and scrubbed, they’re ready to slather my face with kisses. They don’t engage in passive aggressive BS or bring up that one time I promised a W-A-L-K and never followed through. Let things go. Give second chances. And thirds and fourths and so on…
Always Be Excited to See the Ones You Love
Doesn’t matter if I’ve been gone for hours, days or thirty seconds because I forgot my cell phone on the kitchen counter. Every time I walk back in the house I’m greeted with a wagging tail and a big wet one. Yes, it gets old after I’ve had to go back three times because I’m the most unorganized person in the universe, but it always puts a smile on my face when I see those tails whipping back and forth. Even when I get whapped across the thigh or one of them jumps on me. (See #5 above.) I have a hard time tearing myself away from the computer if my writing is really flowing. But I make it a point to greet the kiddos when they get off the bus and give them a big hug. They’re the reason I do what I do to begin with. Well, that and I couldn’t find a nine-to-five job where I could get paid to make stuff up all day.
There you have it… life lessons we can all take to heart from (wo)man’s best friend. Has your pup or another pet taught YOU something worthwhile? Please share the love!