I have had a lot of dogs in my life. I have actually only been without a dog for a couple of months between the death of one and the adoption of another. I have found that the dogs in my life have taught me a lot. Some lessons I am still trying to make a habit, but all of them are worth striving after.
- Always be an optimist
If I go get my shoes on, my dog thinks we are going outside. Every time I go outside, my dog thinks we are going for a drive. Any time I go into the kitchen, my dog thinks she is getting food (and her food isn’t even in the kitchen).Throughout the entire life of my dog, she will never stop thinking these things. She will always believe that everything I do is going to include her. Of course, she is wrong, but she is an inspiration to never give up on believing that good things are going to happen to and for me.
There will be moments when I feel like she looks when I have to leave her home alone. But then there will be moments when I feel the excitement she shows when we come back home. And it will be worth the disappointment.
- Be content to just “be” with loved ones
Dogs are infamous for always being right under your feet when you are trying to get things done. My dog is no exception. It can be annoying and frustrating, but she just loves to be near me. When I take a shower, my dog quite often sleeps on the bathroom rug. If I sit on the couch, my dog comes to lay by my feet. If I walk out to get the mail, my dog runs out there with me.She knows that I am not doing anything exciting and she will receive no treat from it, but she comes with me because just being with me brings her joy. And as frustrating as it can sometimes be, having her with me brings me joy, as well.
- Cuddle whenever possible
Cuddling is said to help relieve stress yet most people don’t really do it that often. Dogs, on the other hand, are almost compulsive cuddlers. My dog isn’t allowed on the couch, so if I sit on the couch she has to sit on the floor by my feet. However, if I happen to sit on the floor for any reason, my dog is almost instantly sitting next to me so close that I am basically holding her up. Within less than a minute, she has usually collapsed to snuggle up next to me.Our dog is also not allowed on our bed, but she is allowed on the kids’ beds. Every night when the kids go to bed, our dog climbs up under our daughter’s covers. She will sleep there for about 2 hours before climbing down and waiting by the door to come sleep on the floor of my room for the rest of the night. Both our daughter and the dog love that little bit of time they get to cuddle before falling asleep for the night.
- Don’t just enjoy being loved, relish it
Petting and grooming a dog is relaxing for the person doing the petting, which is why dogs are often used in therapy. But have you ever watched the dog while they are being groomed. My dog loves being rubbed and scratched. She will close her eyes, roll over, and sometimes just collapse with the pleasure of being loved.Don’t just let a hug or a kiss become routine. Cherish each one. Put yourself into it, and let it be all that you are thinking about at that time.
- Sometimes simple obedience is greatly rewarded
Being obedient is sometimes hard to do, even as an adult. We think that since we are our own boss we don’t have to listen to anybody else. Which is true. We don’t HAVE to listen, but quite often we SHOULD. And it is usually the simple instructions that we fail to follow.Dogs are trained to be obedient with love and sometimes treats. Most of the time when someone tells their dog to “sit” it is for the person’s benefit. The dog just sits there because it makes their master happy. But every once in awhile, there is a treat involved!
- Forgiveness is better than revenge
I am a dog person. I like cats, but I am not a cat person. I don’t trust cats. I have told my kids that if you spank a dog, they will cower at your feet and be right there again when you need them. If you spank a cat, you better check your shoes in the morning.Cats are vengeful creatures. Dogs are forgiving sometimes to a fault. But there is a reason that dogs have earned the title of “man’s best friend” while crossing a cat’s path is considered bad luck. Personally, I’d rather have a friend than any type of luck.
- If you’re happy, show it
You’ve probably heard that your smile can brighten someone’s day, but it is sometimes hard to believe. I like to think my attitude affects people like my dog’s attitude affects me.My favorite part of coming into my house is my dog’s reaction. It doesn’t matter if I was gone for 5 minutes or 12 hours; my dog always reacts the same way. Her entire body wags with pure joy. It is an amazing feeling to know that when you walk in the door you will be showered with love. Let your attitude make those around you feel the same way.
- Patience pays off
We don’t make a habit out of feeding our dog from the table. She does occasionally get table scraps, but we put them in her bowl rather than feed them to her at the table. Of course, there are always exceptions. My youngest son has always been a messy eater. He is very slim, so we sometimes make jokes that it is because more of his food lands on the floor than in his mouth. As he has gotten older (he is 8 now), it has gotten better, but he still makes a mess.Our dog doesn’t sit and stare at us and bed while we eat, but she does make sure to lay down somewhere fairly close by. She isn’t pushy and always in your face trying to get food, but more often than not the meal will end with her finding something on the floor. If you are consistent and wait for it, you will get what you are after more often than not.
- True friendship is action rather than words
I have had at least one dog in my life for my entire life. Contrary to the movies, none of my dogs have ever uttered even one noise that resembled a word. But a dog’s lack of verbal skills has never hindered them from being a trusted companion and great friend.Over the years, I have had a lot of serious conversations with several different dogs. They have been there for me to lean on when I needed to cry it out. They have been stoic and serious when I was confused and needed a solid friend. They stood silent and strong when I was angry and just needed someone to hear me vent. They have been my cuddle buddy when I was lonely. They have been an outward expression of my joy when I was excited.
My dogs have always been there for me. Through thick and thin, I have always been able to count on them standing by my side. Even without words, they are some of the best friends I have ever known.
I know that not all people are dog people or even animal people. But regardless of how you feel about dogs, there are a lot of valuable life lessons you can learn by watching dogs. I have never met a dog that didn’t love life, and that is something that we can all strive for.