The World According to Dogs

Have you ever heard the old saying, “It’s a dog’s life”? Evidently the term was first used in the sixteenth century, referring to a life of misery, subservience and often abuse. Dogs of old weren’t carried around in designer bags and fed off of their owner’s plates while sitting on their laps. They were fed scraps and kept as watchdogs or as hunting dogs, rarely allowed in the house if at all. Dogs kept purely as pets and companions is relatively new… dressing them in outfits is even newer.

I used to be a die-hard cat lover. Don’t get me wrong I still like cats but having a cat is like living with a teenager, a sullen teenager. Cats are fairly self-sufficient but ignore you most of the time unless they want something from you. With a cat, you can set out a large amount of food and water and take off for a few days and when you come back the cat will look at you like, “Oh, your back.” Or if it’s feeling particularly generous maybe rub against your leg. A dog is like a perpetual two-year-old. Try leaving a large amount of food for a dog and most would eat them selves into a coma the moment the door closed behind you. There’s also the need to be walked or at least let outside several times a day and being a pack animal they get lonely if left alone for long periods. Dogs, like children need rules, boundaries and limitations (thank you, Cesar Milan), and they also require constant vigilance. I have a friend that has a very large dog that will eat the butter off the counter if she turns her back on it for even a moment. Another friend has the invisible fence with the zap collar for his dog. The dog will stand at the point when the collar beeps and stay there until it kills the battery and then trot off to whereabouts unknown. I don’t allow my dogs on the furniture, mainly because they are not small dogs, yet every morning when I come down the stairs to make coffee I hear the unmistakable thump, thump of a dog getting down off of the couch and behold my old dog with a sheepish look on her face.

I know that my dogs are dependent on me for the necessities, i.e. food and shelter, but I in no way feel ‘above’ them just as I don’t feel ‘above’ children just because they are young. Animals and children have an innate wisdom and we would do well to remember this.

I’m going to share some of what I have learned from watching dogs…
When you enter the front door your dogs welcome you as if you’ve been gone for a week even if you just went to the mailbox and back.
Lesson 1~ Love joyfully.
Dogs will just stand outside with their eyes closed and their noses held high, sniffing the air with gusto.
Lesson 2~ Breathe deeply.
If I have just scolded my dog for eating a stink bug and then licking my arm they may slink away but there are no hard feelings, a minute later they are back by my leg for a pat on the head or a belly rub.
Lesson 3~ Forgive and forget.
Have you ever seen a dog nap during the day? They REALLY enjoy it, especially if they’re in a sunny spot.
Lesson 4~ Nap, because it feels good.
Every morning when I open the back door, my youngest dog always sprints the fifty yards to the back fence to catch the squirrel that ALWAYS springs out of reach at the last moment, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to get it again every single morning.
Lesson 5~ Just because you fail, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.
Lastly is the dog belonging to friends of ours that was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. While she is given daily meds, you would never know that she was given six months to live. She runs like the wind, plays like a pup and just loves her life.
Lesson 6~ Live in the moment.

So, who would have thought that dogs could teach a person something about how to live a life to the fullest and be a better person?

In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog. ~Edward Hoagland