Everything I know I learned from my dogs…

I love weekend mornings. It’s that rare time of the week when I’m at a slower pace, and really able to observe all the little things that usually go unnoticed during the busy work week. It’s quiet unless I want to make a noise and it’s a great time for me to watch my dogs interact.

And oh, the interaction…

But I’m one of those people who would die without knowledge, who would wither and go into a coma if I couldn’t walk away from any experience without a nugget of information. Something I could apply to my life and become a little more than what I was before. I’m a geek, no doubt, and a nosey one to boot. It’s why I’m moderately good at what I do and why I just keep getting better. So here’s a list, because it seems I’ve been doing a lot of lists lately, of stuff I’ve learned from my dogs.

When I’m in something, I want out of it. And when I’m out of it, I want right back in. My big lab, we’ll call him Bear (cause that’s his name) is the best example of this. We wants nothing more than to go outside. His very life depends on it. He adamantly sits at the door, refusing to move away from it until I let him out. I cave and out he goes. He gives me this look like I’ve lost my mind. Why did I put him out? How could I have possibly misconstrued his actions into him wanting out. So I leave him back in. Ten minutes later, he wants right back out again. During the course of the day, we’ll go through this probably 30 times. I set the kitchen timer just to keep the wear and tear down on the back door. I’m just like Bear. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve said ‘I want no part of that’ or ‘not my fight’, only to get right in the middle of it; all the while thinking ‘what the f*&k did I step into this time?’

Never be content in your own backyard. I’ve got the smaller lab, Tina, to thank for this one. We can’t keep her in the fence to save ourselves. It’s nearly a thing of beauty to watch her soar over the fence and race through the neighborhood. Nearly. Tina’s not content playing it safe. She wants to experience what the big bad world has to offer, fast moving cars and all, and if that means a little danger and some close calls, well so be it. She’s doing it and when I’m hesitant about a new opportunity, I think of my little Lab that could and dive right in.

Just cause you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t do big things. Of course the Shitzuh Nudgee taught me this. It would be no surprise to anyone when I say that the smallest of the dogs runs the house. Nudgee has set the daily schedule, hell the daily tone of the house. I’m certain she uses mind control, but whatever her methods, the end result is that she generally gets her way. She doesn’t need bulk or a large presence to get her way. She uses the power of perception and a healthy does of bravado to get her way. This is a lesson that I hope my entire family appreciates.

There’s nothing bad about a good back rub. The sheer joy on the faces of the dogs when they are scratching their backs is evidence enough that we all need a little self-indulgence. Taking time to make yourself feel good is vital to happiness.

If someone else is eating it, it’s got to be good. All three of our dogs have the notion that if a human is eating something, it has to be delicious. And they’re not afraid to try new things based solely on the fact that we’re eating it or the off-chance that one of the other animals may find it enjoyable. Pickles, lettuce and broccoli are but a few of the unorthodox food items we’ve fed them.

The louder and dirtier, the better. Sure you can have a good time lying around on the rug snoring, but if you can roll in the mud making loud grunting noises, it’s that much better. Or if you can snort around in on the kitchen floor ripping apart a stuffed animal until the entire room looks like it was the scene of a Care Bear massacre, you’ve pretty much had a good day. I guess in people terms, this means to enjoy life to its fullest and if you get a little dirty or make some noise in the process, all the better.

Always say you’re sorry. Another thing I’ve learned from Bear. I’ve seen him say sorry on more than one occasion. He does it honestly and immediately. He doesn’t let the issue fester and he doesn’t defend his actions. If he’s hurt you; he apologizes right away. And then it’s over and we are all friends again.

It’s okay to pick on your friends. The labs do this all the time. They pick and harass and chase only to end up sleeping together, her head resting on his back. Oh sure, there’s a little testiness there and sometimes teeth get bared and hackles rise, but at the end of the day, they’re still inseparable and content and not wanting any other friend. So it’s okay to pick a little bit, but make sure that person knows there’s no one else you’d rather sleep with.

There’s never a wrong time to hump. My dogs do this all the time and anywhere they can. In the back yard, in the kitchen, in front of the neighbors, daytime, nighttime. There’s no wrong time for a good hump. They are neutered and yet they still give it hell. You got to admire their enthusiasm. You got to try and emulate it.

No matter what someone is doing, they probably want a visit from you. I can be typing or reading or working or sleeping and my dogs are certain that I want a visit with them. They have no questions whatsoever that no matter what my focus was at the time; a visit from them is just what I was looking for. So my hand gets pulled from the keyboard or the back of my leg gets scratched in a bid for attention and the visit begins.

No means ‘not right now’. I just took a glove out of Bear’s mouth. I did the ‘no and ack, ack, ack’ routine and he set his jaw like a vise. After I pried his mouth open and took the glove and tossed it on my desk, he moved on. We both know this isn’t over and if he wants the damn glove bad enough he’ll be back. Or he’ll get the match and in a few days I’ll be tossing a pair of chewed gloves in the trash. Persistence in the face of negativity is the lesson here kids, and it’s a lesson that will serve you well.

If all else fails, feign ignorance. My dogs act like I’ve never told them they couldn’t sleep on the couch or chew shoes or get into the garbage. They look at me in fake stupidity and wonder when in the hell I just arbitrarily decided that these things were taboo. They don’t understand why I’m so excited and waving my arms around and saying things like ‘again and again’ and ‘repeatedly’ and ‘how many times have I told you…’ They’re astounded, dumbfounded, and aghast. They’re faking. It’s a clever ploy that really works.

Family first, i.e. protect your own. My daughter’s friends come to the door several times during the day but my dogs act as if they’ve never seen them before and bark wildly until they’re assured they pose no threat. They protect their own and we should all do the same. Keep your family well insulated from the hurts and ugliness of the outside world. Make your home a safe haven for them and they’ll always feel safe. Oh they’ll undoubtedly get hurt, but they’ll have someplace to run for cover and there’ll always be something or someone to keep the bad guys on the porch.

Love without judgment. I know that sounds like a greeting card, but I see it every day in my dogs. They love each other and us without regard to our mood, our looks or our bank account. They simply love us. And whether we are grouchy or in bad need of a shower, they won’t stop loving us. They don’t care what tax bracket we’re in, so long as we blow them kisses and hand out ear rubs, they’re smitten. That’s true love.

My dogs teach me life-lessons every day and these are just a few of them. I hope I can live up to their examples and above all, be a good doggie.


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