Five years ago our lives changed forever when my husband and I brought home Annabelle Hope, a sweet and shy three pound Maltese puppy.
And even more so when, a year later, we brought home Maximillian James, a spunky little Maltese puppy who seems to have no choice but to live his life out loud.
In these past five years we’ve lost a lot of sleep, a few pairs of shoes, a few couch cushions and our patience more than a few times. But what we have gained is a life filled with more love than we ever could’ve imagined.
We have taught them many things, as good pet parents do, and in turn they have taught us a few lessons about how to live our lives. I wanted to share a few with you:
Live in the moment
Have you ever noticed how, 4 seconds after you’ve yelled at your dog for chewing up your brand new pair of sneakers, he is wagging his tail, ready to play? Or how there is no recognition in his eyes when you come home from work and find the poop he left on the carpet that morning? That’s because dogs live in the moment. They don’t remember what they did five minutes ago, much less twelve hours earlier.
This is a rather convenient excuse if you ask me, but then again, don’t you wish that when your boss chews you out for something you did yesterday you could just wag your tail and feign innocence?
I thought I was a patient person before I got dogs. I was wrong. I’ve learned that punishing them, or even raising my voice to them, only instills fear and anxiety in them and it does not correct their behavior. Only positive reinforcement of good behavior seems to do that.
And so when I came home to find that Annabelle had discovered toilet paper, or when Max discovered newspapers and magazines, or the time when I left the gate to their pen open and he destroyed an expensive pair of sun glasses, all I could do was laugh (after I silently absorbed the shock and went thru the rage in my mind).
It’s not that hard to do (laughing I mean) when you have a dog like Max who, while I’m taking deep breaths and coming to grips with what happened, is standing nearby (just out of reach) wagging his entire body, showing you how proud he is of his own handywork (while his sister is across the room giving him her best “oh brother, you are in BIG trouble now!” look).
And so when Max stands with all fours on top of the potty pad and pees off the pad, or poops in a 360 degree circle and most of his poop hits the floor, all I can do is laugh. And then clean it up. Yes, they have definitely taught me about patience.
Dogs really can talk if you are just willing to listen
The other day we went for our morning walk and there was an old Asian man standing on the corner resting while on his own morning walk. As we approached the man, my little boy Max turned and looked at me, then turned to the man and gave him his best grrrr and then a ferocious, supersonic bark (which, in reality, sounded like a screeching monkey) which, when translated into English meant “one false move, buddy, and I’ll take you out.”
There is beauty in the simple things in life
Dog’s worlds are so simplistic, and yet they manage to find joy in the smallest of things. Take Max, for example. He has toys all over the house, but his very favorite thing in the world is a sock. He doesn’t chew them (although he will chew anything else in the house, including the furniture, if left to his own devices). The fun is in the acquisition of them. He’ll even pull them right off my feet.
One of my favorite things in the world to do is to watch my dogs when they are just being dogs. When they are chewing their favorite bones, rolling in the grass, even sleeping. The joy I feel when I am in the moment just watching them is beyond compare. They have made me realize that the simplest things make up the greatest joy in life.
Man did not invent email
Dogs did, only they call it pee mail. We just stole the idea and shorted the name of it. My dogs get beyond excited when it’s time to go for a walk because they get to send and receive their daily pee mail. They have about 11 places they stop at routinely to first sniff (receive) and then pee (send) their pee mails. And every day they seem to make new pee mail friends, sniffing out new spots and leaving messages for their new friends.
We really can learn a lot about ourselves from our canine friends. They love us so unconditionally, and they deserve that from us in return. If you’ve never known the love of a dog, you’re missing out on one of God’s greatest gifts. I just wish I hadn’t waited 47 years to find that out, but as they say, better late than never.
What about you? What lessons has your dog taught you? I want to know!
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Coming Friday: But Daddy, I NEED a Kitty!