Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog
Late Night Realizations
Laying on the cold hard floor next to my dog's crate at 3:30 AM, a strange sense of deja vu washes over me. I've been here before, I've done this already, but when and why? Then it hits me, fifteen years earlier the first night we got my dog I laid in this same spot. I laid there comforting my dog. I comforted her as she embarked on a new journey, our home. I comforted her as she was separated from her parents and siblings. I comforted her trying to make her feel safe in her new surroundings. Fifteen years ago I was filled with pure joy as I spent my first night with my puppy.
Now, I lay here comforting my dog with a sense of dread. I am here comforting her by trying to take away her pain. I am here comforting her by trying to anticipate her every need. Fifteen years ago seems like just yesterday. How did we get here? How did the years cruise by so quickly? How did she go from a puppy to a senior dog? How is she a diabetic? How did she just have a stroke? Will she recover? What will her quality of life be? Is this the end of the road?
Emotions course through my body and tears fill my eyes. My companion, my best friend, my sidekick is helpless and relying on me. Memories flood my mind and I realize she has taught me valuable life lessons. Lessons I will carry with me throughout my life. Lessons I will pass on to others.
Pepper's Life Lessons
1. Trust your gut (don't go barking at people though...that most likely will be frowned upon)
Have you ever met someone and got that gut feeling deep in the pit of your stomach that he or she is a sleaze ball? My dog definitely has the nose for sketchy people. There are a handful of people that my dog will bark endlessly at until they leave her territory. Sorry folks, but if my dog doesn't like you neither do I. Dogs instincts are spot on and so are ours. Trust your gut and don't second guess what you feel.
2. Always eat that treat
Life is short, eat dessert first. Don't deny yourself, you want that piece of cake, eat it, you want that brownie, eat it, you want that bagel, eat it, life is too short to deprive yourself. Treats can be eaten before breakfast, as a snack, after dinner, whenever your heart desires. The more the better!
3. Take on a challenge (no bird, squirrel, rabbit, is ever too fast)
Although my dog's record for catching animals is 1 for 547, she never stops trying. Many rabbits have out run her, but if you see a rabbit in our backyard, you will see our dog not far behind. The only way we grow is when we take on a challenge. We don't need to accomplish the challenge, just trying to reach your goal we learn about ourselves.
4. Nap, nap again, and nap some more
The older my dog got, the more naps it seems like she takes. When I think about it, her body needs time to rest, relax, and recuperate. Our bodies need the same with our overly hectic lives, so find time to sneak in a quick nap here and there, chances are you'll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything thrown your way.
5. Take time to stop and linger
I am guilty of sometimes needing to rush my dogs walk. I quicken my step and expect my dog to keep up with my pace. As I speed walk, I get stopped in my tracks at the sudden pull of her leash. I tell her to come on, but she won't budge. I stop and follow her gaze. She is watching children play and enjoy themselves. A small smile appears on my face. Shortly after, we pick up the pace again. She hops on someone's lawn and she sniffs for what feels like eternity. My friend's mother once said, "give them time to sniff, they get such pleasure out of it." She is absolutely right. Dogs are on no schedule, no time restraints, there whole life is going at their own pace and taking the time to linger at sights, sounds, animals, people, and truly enjoy life. We should spend time lingering each day.
6. Protect the ones you love
My dog is famous for not going to bed until everyone is upstairs and in her sight. She is also famous for guarding the entrance to the room we are in. We are her pack, her crew, her squad. There is no bone, toy, treat, bunny, that she values more than her family and she will go to great lengths to protect us. At the end of the day there is no item we own that is more valuable than the ones we love. Make sure to always have their back and protect them.
7. Always greet your loved ones at the door
Always be happy to see your loved ones. Don't take for granted them walking through the door. It's easy to be frustrated and agitated with our work day, but don't take those negative feelings out on your loved ones. Greet them at the door with the enthusiasm of a puppy, even if they only stepped out to get the mail.
8. Unconditional love
I'll admit as a dog mom there were some mistakes that I made. Whether it was accidentally locking my dog in my closet or the basement, stepping on her, or not fluffing her pillow enough. No matter the circumstance my dog loved me unconditionally.
9. Never cheat on your exercise routine
It's so easy to make an excuse not to exercise. It's also easy to cheat on your normal routine, because hey you won't tell anyone and who is really holding you accountable? Well, if you have a dog, she will hold you accountable. My dog knew her walking routines better than the mail carrier knows his mail route. If I tried to cheat her, she would dig her paws into the pavement and lean all eighteen pounds towards the right direction. Never cheat yourself on your exercise routine, because maybe one day you won't be able to do it.
10. Explore, never lose your sense of wonder
If I had a dollar for every time my dog went into my backyard, I would be a rich woman! Each time she went out into the backyard she would explore every nook and cranny as if she were seeing it for the first time. Never lose your sense of wonder and never stop exploring new or old places. You may just be amazed at what you find if you really open your eyes.
11. Persistence is key
If my dog wants a treat, she will stare you down, run to the treat cabinet, stare you down, run back to the treat cabinet until she gets what she wants. If she wants turkey on her dog food, she waits by the refrigerator until it magically opens. What I learned from her is that persistence is key. Never stop until you get what you want.
12. Don't take life for granted
This is so cliche, but we all need this reminder every once in a while. One moment everything can be fine and in a blink of an eye your whole world can change. We are all guilty of looking forward to the future. Looking forward to the weekend, the next concert, the next vacation, but what about the moment we are in right now? We need to stop looking forward and appreciate the here and now. We need to start making the most of the moment we are in. Don't take for granted your time today or your loved ones. Whether your loved ones are humans or furry friends, make sure to hug them extra tight tonight, because you never know what can happen in a blink of an eye.
What life lessons have you learned from your dog?