About two years ago, we adopted rescue poodle named Pepper, and our lives were never the same. We wanted to change his name to Rocky, but it quickly became clear that he had no interest in having his name changed, so Pepper he remained. Pepper has traveled with us all over the United States and Canada and has proven to be an excellent companion to us both.
He goes tent camping with us, goes on crazy long hikes, and charms everyone he meets. He also sometimes drives us crazy by barking at passing cats, dogs, and squirrels and pushing our laptops aside to try to get some attention and love.
The thing about Pepper is that he’s helped me to pay attention to some really important life lessons:
1. Greet people you love with joy and unbridled enthusiasm — but perhaps forgo trying to lick them.
2. Protect those that you love — but, perhaps, without growling unless it’s absolutely necessary.
3. Only eat when you're hungry and eat mindfully one piece (or one bite) at a time.
He really does that, unlike my sister’s dog, who could demolish an entire bowl of food in 28 seconds.
4. Always stretch when you stand up — a really good, deep stretch does wonders.
5. Look people directly in the eye, but don’t stare at them for so long that they (or that you) get uncomfortable.
6. Get to know your neighbors, always be willing to make new friends and then make the time to play with your friends.
7. Drink enough water.
8. Be sensitive to the needs of others.
Pepper seems to know when it's OK to joyously leap on someone (he is, after all, only 12 pounds) and when he needs to greet them in a more subdued manner. He knows who will like to have him sit on their lap and who prefers to have him by their side.
9. Come to think of it, maybe pushing the laptop aside is a lesson too.
Always remember to take time away from your electronics to give attention to those you love.
10. Live with your heart and head where your feet are.
Pepper’s ability to live in the moment is admirable.
I know that not everyone is a “dog person” and I know cats are wonderful too.
I do think that paying attention to how other creatures live their lives lets us live more in the moment and offers the opportunity to learn a thing or two.
What can you learn today from your pet? From a bird? A squirrel? A fish? If you don’t have a pet, would you consider adopting one? There are so many fabulous pets in need of a forever home. Imagine what you could learn from a new pet and all of the joy that it could bring you!