Owning a dog has taught me so many wonderful life lessons. Here are the top 10 things Freddy has taught me in just two years 🙂
1. How to forgive and forget.
Whatever the crime, one look into those puppy-dog eyes and all is forgiven. I don’t like flip-flops anyways – he must have known that!?
2. How to appreciate the small stuff.
Forget new cars, high-end clothes, or fancy dinners out, the sight of a wagging tail when we take the last stick of butter out of the box or we finish the cereal and that cardboard box heads to the recycling bin where Freddy intersects it and claims it his own…. is pure joy.
3. How to share.
If you are an only child and never really had to share, well get a dog and you will learn how to! Nothing’s sacred with a pooch around. Whether they’ve chosen your socks as their new chew toy, raided the snack cupboard or taken over your side of the bed, you learn the hard way that sharing is caring!
4. Sports skills.
Throwing a ball in the park over and over is bound to have improved my pitching skills and arm strength. Plus, chasing him around when it’s time to go back home or doing sprints in the park at night just to tire him out for sure improved my track time from high school 🙂 Nonetheless, it is a good reminder for us to play and move our bodies every day as well. It’s a needed break from the constant 24/7 work environment — when N was working at his MBA, I would remind him to take a break from studying and come with Fred and I to throw the ball around. Dogs give you a reason to get out and go walking, hiking, running, biking, rollerblading and our newest activity (because of Freddy) is cross-country skiing!
5. To be more open and friendly.
The daily dog walk has created many friendships for me that otherwise I would never have. You end up bumping into other dog walkers on a regular basis and it’s funny how quickly you’re engaging in conversation with them about the most random dog-related stories. I have even exchanged phone numbers with other dog owners so that we can arrange dog play dates!
6. How to brave any weather.
Pre-dog days, rainy days were enough of an excuse to watch Netflix and hang indoors all day. Now, with a pooch to walk, I’ve learnt to embrace wind, heavy rain or a blizzard to get outside and exercise him – and myself, for that matter!
7. 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 food 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.
8. Overcome fear with love.
There are plenty of stories about scared, 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. Freddy went through a stage of severe separation anxiety – he would scratch at the door when I was gone, panic, howl, cry, bark and pant excessively. It was horrible and so heart breaking to watch (I have this camera, so I can monitor him on my I phone remotely). After a lot of work, I decided to go against what every dog behaviorist professional person was telling me to do. Instead of simply leaving the house (which would trigger Freddy’s panic), I simply showed him compassion and talked to him slowly so he could understand that I would be back and that he had to be a big boy and wait — It may sound cheesy, but it worked and has made ALL the difference in the world for N and I! I can’t wait to share more about this in hopes that I can help someone else out there dealing with a separation anxiety stressed dog.
9. Enjoy the journey.
When we have somewhere to go in the car, Freddy sticks his head out the window, smells the air and loves the wind going through his luscious locks. He doesn’t seem to care where we are going. He just enjoys 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.
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 (or put them in doggy time out!) . 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.
Let me know some things your dog or other pet has taught you! I’d love to hear! Have a great weekend 🙂