I love dogs. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that about me. My husband and I have two adopted dogs, Logan and Denver, who keep us busy but very entertained. Having them in our home has made me lucky to observe many of their habits, some of which are amazing and impressive, while others (think: drool and passing gas with no regard for those around them) should be left to the dogs. Overall, I think that those of us standing on two legs could learn a thing or two from our four-legged friends, so here are some lessons’s from a dog’s world:
1. Make the best of what you have - Dogs are not vain. They don’t check out their reflection pretending to look at a bone in the store window, and they don’t talk smack about the dog down the street because his owner makes him wear a hideous doggie-sweater when it is cold. There are three legged dogs out there that live just the same as dogs that have all their limbs intact, and they don’t stop to feel sorry for themselves because they don’t look like everyone else. They learn to cope with it and move forward. They make the best of the hand they were dealt, don’t complain, and don’t get stuck on their hardships.
2. Love unconditionally and be a good friend - It is hard not to notice my dog’s unconditional love for our little “pack.” Just a glance in Denver’s direction is enough to get his stump of a tail wagging at breakneck speed, and whenever I come home I am greeted as if that is the best thing that could have happened to my dogs that day. If I am down, I am instantly surrounded by the two of them offering their love, support and kisses, and they always seem to know how to make me laugh. I have full confidence that if anyone were to ask my dogs what kind of a person I am, they would give me raving reviews.
3. Know what you want and don’t be afraid to go for it - One Sunday night not too long ago, I was finishing a yoga practice in my living room and was standing in Tadasana with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes to see Logan sitting on my mat directly in front of me, tail wagging, toy in mouth, and a devilish look in his eye. He was blatantly saying to me “Your yoga hour is up. Time to play.” When Denver wants to play fetch, he’ll put his toy in your lap. Ignore it, and he’ll shove it with his nose… repeatedly, until it escalates and he starts barking and becomes impossible to ignore. They are persistent, relentless, occasionally annoying- but guess what… 99% of the time they get what they want.
4. Soak up the moment - If you want to learn about living in the present moment, hang out with a dog for the day. If they are in the car, they aren’t asking where we are going – they are sniffing the air and checking out everything we are passing. When on a walk, they aren’t talking about what to make for dinner or who is dating who - they are soaking up every last feeling, smell and sight they encounter. Logan loves to lie in the sun, and he seeks out a patch of light wherever he goes. He definitely isn’t waiting for anything better to come along because that moment in the sun is as good as it gets!
5. Never stop exploring - Dogs are filled with wonder and amazement. Denver so much so that when he is sniffing something new and interesting he crosses his eyes in attempt to get a better look at it, which has brought us endless amusement. Every new sound, smell, and sight – ears are perked and body is faced in that direction with curiosity and focus. If they are interested in something, they focus like a laser and learn as much as they can about it.
6. Act first, apologize later, and carry on - I distinctly remember my wonderful mom telling me this when I was younger. Sure, it can backfire if you use this motto unintelligently, but on the whole I believe you have to try things out for yourself and learn the hard way on occasion. My dogs are masters at this. One day I came home to what looked like confetti all over the living room. My dogs tore up every last piece of paper they could get their paws on- napkins, newspapers, mail… they clearly had an absolutely amazing time going on a rampage through the house.
When I got home their heads were hanging, and guilt was just oozing out of them… I picked up the paper and made it clear that it was not ok, so they slunk out into the back yard where they looked dejectedly at the back door hoping I’d let them back in. Once I did, I gave them a pat, and knowing they were forgiven the wags returned to their tails and they got over it… never to look back on the incident, going back to loving life and living in the here and now.