Lessons From My Puppies
I am an animal lover and over the years have had my share of cats, dogs, birds, and hamsters. But my puppies, those guys up there, well they are pretty much my favorite. Sadly, just over a week ago, we lost one of them. Sebastian, the one in the middle, has had intermittent back problems for the past few years, and last week, he sustained an injury that required us to make the difficult decision to put him down.
It’s been a tough week, but I know in my heart, it was in his best interest to let him go. The week gave me time to reflect on not only how loved these little guys are, but how much they have loved and have taught me valuable lessons during their lives.
We spend a lot of time together since I work from home now. In the mornings they crawl under my desk as I write and burrow into their blankets, keeping my feet warm.
In the afternoon they take over our couch and watch my every move as I take on household chores.
They are my biggest fan when I read my latest blog to them out loud. They sit with their brown eyes staring in my direction, attentive to my every word.
Actually, I think they are just waiting for one particular word to fly off my page.
Their favorite word in the human vocabulary.
At the mere mention of this word, these three brothers will fly off the couch and race to the refrigerator waiting for their special treat.
Cheese is how we trained them to use the dog door when we first put it in.
It is how we taught them to sit and stay at the top of the stairs when someone comes to the door. It’s even the word we use when we need to call them home after they have somehow managed to escape running down the street to antagonize the bigger dogs. They are feared by the other dogs when they run in a pack.
These guys turned ten this past Halloween, and while they have the most spoiled life of any dog I’ve ever had, they have taught me a few valuable lessons.
1- Give everyone a chance
If you come to my door, you will hear a lot of yipping and whining. A LOT!! As you come in, you will be sniffed, studied and under suspension but once you pass the test, you will have friends for life. They don’t care about the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, who you voted for in the election or what body type you are; they care about you as an individual.
They accept you for who you are as they give their undivided attention and 100% acceptance.
2- Live in the moment
My guys don’t worry about tomorrow. They take each moment as it comes. When the sun is out, they lounge and enjoy the warmth. When it’s raining, they find the nearest blanket to snuggle under.
They don’t worry about tomorrow; they embrace and relax in the now.
3- Forgive and Move On
Sometimes, these guys get in trouble. We have come home to find a magazine torn up and littered throughout the house or self-made presents on the rug because it was easier to put it there instead of taking a few extra steps to go outside.
There is scolding and being sent to their bed. Once they are allowed to re-join the family, they run to sit on laps, looking at us with those cute brown eyes to say they are sorry for misbehaving.
They don’t hold grudges and they don’t remain bitter. They understand, that you can’t change what has already happened and they don’t waste their time thinking about it.
4- Adapt and Grow
I re-arrange things in the house on a regular basis. Looking for the perfect place for items can include their beds, toys, their favorite furniture to lay on and their dishes. I can tell it can be frustrating for them walking into the kitchen to eat and their bowls have moved once again. Those eyes look up as if to say, “Okay, where did you put our food now?”
But they learn new routines quickly, and they adapt to the new surroundings, with little to no complaining.
5- Persistence pays off
If they want something bad enough, they will stare you down until they get it. They sit by their dish waiting for their food, and if it doesn’t happen promptly, they push their bowls around the kitchen announcing they are ready for dinner.
These guys don’t give up. There are no dead ends for them, just various ways of negotiations until they get their way.
6- Love unconditionally
These guys don’t see differences as conditions for love. They see inside the heart and make their judgments there. If they don’t like someone, they don’t attack their character. They simply accept people as they are with no strings attached, even if you’ve come in with the scent of your cat on you.
I thought I was teaching my dog lessons during the past 11 years, but the truth is, they have been teaching me all along.