I’ve always been a fan of dogs. They were part of our family’s life while I was growing up, so it just seemed natural to always have a dog around. As a matter of fact, my parents got a Newfoundland the same year they “got” me. Four children under the age of 10, then add in a Newfoundland puppy. My mother was either a saint or plum crazy.
Then throughout much of my adult life, my dog contact was limited to those of friends and relatives…. Until a few years ago, when we added a goofy large Lab to our family – and instantly my dog appeal turned into a full-blown love affair. Dogs add a certain amazing quality to our lives, one that we should welcome. I’ve never really considered it as dog “ownership” — more of an adoption of a family member. After all, the next time you see one of us dog-lovers walking our dogs, with a baggie in hand to pick up their poo, you can ask yourself who is really the one in charge.
Dogs are basically simple creatures. As long as their basic needs are met (food, shelter, activity, education, health care and love), they are happy critters. Not really that far off from our own basic needs. Funny that.
I have grown to believe that we can learn something from our dogs. Or, perhaps better stated, we can be reminded of some very important factors of life when in the company of dogs.
Consider, if you will, the following basic rules of doggie-dom:
- Welcome loved ones home. No matter whether your loved one has been gone for a day, a week, or several months, be happy to see them when they return. You don’t have to do the happy doggie-dance and wag your tail, but a hug and a kiss can go a long way.
- Be protective and loving. Generally my dog is a big furry mellow happy dude. However, if he believes something to be a possible threat to any of us, he lets it be known. He has “saved” me several times from harmless inanimate objects that he just didn’t like the look of – but I appreciate his efforts. And bottom line, I feel safe with him. And anyone who has had a dog in their life has experienced the overwhelming and never-ending supply of unconditional love they give. Protect and love the important people in your life. Dogs find this easy to do, so should we.
- De-stress. For the most part, if a dog is confronted with something unpleasant, he will get up and move away from that which is offensive. It is only when he sees no escape, or repeated retreats offer no solution, that he may fight back. Couldn’t the world be perhaps a more pleasant place if more of us stepped back, avoided our stresses and reconsidered our situation BEFORE going into attack mode?
- Be comforting. Sure, a dog can’t discuss big issues, but they aren’t afraid of tears or illness, and they have an innate duty to stay close to their humans in times of distress. Or plop a big head in your lap and pretend to listen. Sometimes that’s all we need.
- Be appreciative. If someone offers to take a walk with you, take you for a ride, or play ball, receive this offer with glee and an appreciation that this is one of the greatest gifts you could possibly receive. After all, it is — this person is offering their time and attention and wants to spend time with you.
- Just be. Be patient with yourself and your life enough to pause and just be. Sniff the air on a beautiful day. Sit and watch the world go by. Experience the sheer joy of a roll in the grass (squeaky ball optional). Don’t take any of the simple joys in life for granted.
Sure, dogs don’t have the responsibilities that we have day in and day out, so maybe it is easy for them to follow these doggie rules. But just maybe if we take a page or two out of their playbook, we can handle our daily grind a bit better. With our ears perked up and a bounce in our step.