As a child I knew that there was something about having a dog that made me feel better about life. I had a mixed breed dog, her name was Honey. Everyday, when I would get off the bus, she would be waiting at the top of the driveway. Honey would smile like I have never seen a dog smile. We loved each other, and often times, she would be the only thing that could make me smile. As I grew up , I realized just how many life lessons Honey had taught me. Without the love of that dog and the dogs that followed her; my life would have been far less tolerable. So, this blog is dedicated to all of the puppies I have had and the ones that are in my life today!!!
1. Live in the moment.
Although dogs remember things like where the treats are kept, what street takes them home and who they’ve met before, they only access that information when they need it — in the moment. Whether they’re eating a bowl of kibble or chasing a ball, dogs live for the present moment. The past is gone; you can’t do anything about it. The future is unknown. The only thing you can really enjoy and affect is the present moment.
2. Overcome fear with love.
There are plenty of stories about frightful, aggressive dogs who transformed into kind, gentle dogs after they were placed in a loving environment. Dogs can overcome their fear and insecurities through love, and so can humans. Love truly does conquer all, and the first step for us is to love ourselves. If you can replace fear and self-criticism with self-love, no matter what situation you’re in, life gets easier.
3. Don’t hold grudges
A grudge is a feeling of resentment toward someone. It originates in our mind. Humans are probably the only species that holds a grudge. A dog will never be angry with you because you didn’t give him a treat after dinner last night. Holding a grudge weighs you down emotionally and keeps you from moving forward in life. Let grudges go and you will create your own personal freedom.
4. Play every day.
Dogs love to play, which usually involves lots of movement, whether it’s running, chasing or jumping. This is a good reminder for us to play and move our bodies every day as well. Playing opens up your mind and spirit to all kinds of new ideas and creativity. It’s a needed break from the constant 24/7 work environment. And if you can exercise while you play, even better. Dogs actually give you a reason to get out and go walking, hiking, running, biking or even Rollerblading. (Although, I wouldn’t recommend Rollerblading if you have dogs that pull like I do. Very fun for them. Very scary for you!)
5. Jump for joy when you’re happy.
Have you ever seen a dog circling around or jumping up and down at the thought of getting a treat or chasing a ball? Wouldn’t it be fun if we could all jump around when we’re excited about something? We live life so fast that we often forget to get excited and celebrate the good times because we’re already on to the next thing. We live in a miraculous world where the sun comes up every day, flowers bloom and seasons change. There is much to jump for joy about.
6. Accept yourself.
Can you imagine a terrier wishing she were a boxer or a poodle envious of a collie’s mane or a pug wanting the nose of a greyhound? We humans spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves look like someone else’s version of perfection instead of loving our unique features, our unique life, and yes, our unique problems. How boring it would be if all dogs (or all humans) looked and behaved alike! Love everything about yourself — the good, the bad and the ugly!
7. Enjoy the journey.
When dogs go for a car ride, they stick their head out the window, smell the air and feel the wind against their fur. They don’t care where they’re going. They’re just enjoying the journey. Although goals are great to set, we often forget that it’s the journey that matters most. When we get too attached to the outcome, we set ourselves up for frustration, depression or even anger if our exact expectations are not met. Next time you set a goal, be open to other possibilities and enjoy every moment of excitement, creativity, fun and lessons in the journey.
8. Drink lots of water.
Dogs instinctively know when their bodies need water. They usually stop eating when they’re full, and won’t eat anything that seems poisonous to them, except of course, for one of my huskies who once ate an entire platter of chocolate rum balls. Anyway... back to water. It’s a good reminder for us to stay hydrated and drink when we’re thirsty. In fact, drinking water when you feel hungry is good for weight management because often you just need some water. Another good practice is to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.
9. Be loyal and dependable.
Dogs are pack animals. They stick with their pack. They play with their pack. They defend their pack. This is a great reminder for all of us to be conscientious members of our human pack. The Golden Rule of treating others how you would like to be treated applies here. Being a loyal and dependable friend, lover, sibling, partner or parent will enrich your life in many ways.
10. Love unconditionally.
No matter what, dogs love you unconditionally. They wag their tails when they see you, no matter what mood you’re in. They still want to give you big wet kisses, even if you’ve just yelled at them. And they instantly forgive you no matter how you behave. Loving others unconditionally is a difficult task, but it’s the one that would surely make the world a better place if we all just tried.
So, we can learn a lot from our dogs. Their companionship, loyalty and unconditional love is unmatched by any human standards.