I love my dogs. I’ve often said that when I die, I want to come back as a dog. Not as just any dogs, as MY dogs. (I realize that would be a little challenging if I were dead…but go with it!) They have the life – they eat, they sleep and they get loved and snuggled every. single. day. In fact, as I type this, Bella is sleeping to my left and Nikki is curled up on my feet – not AT my feet, ON my feet – which works out for both of us, because my feet are always cold and she’s always furry.
Nikki had a couple of fatty growths removed from her head the other day, so she’s looking pretty pathetic with two shaved bald spots and 15 stitches holding the two incisions closed. As we dropped her off at the veterinarian’s, she was distressed. My husband Dave and I were both trying to reassure her that we’d be back, that she’d be fine – the usual. As is also usual, she had no idea what we were saying. I wished she could just understand so she’d know that everything would be okay. Then I wondered, what is it that Nikki wishes we understood? Would she tell us that she preferred hamburger to her dog food? That she really enjoyed a good ear rubbing more than anything else? Or would her lessons be more profound?
Life Lessons From My Dog
1. Never underestimate the power of a nap in warm sunlight. The world would be a better place if everyone took a little nap every day. Take a minute to stop and regroup when your day gets crazy – which is practically every day.
2. Whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm (and a wagging tail.) I’ll be honest – I don’t always approach my day with a smile on my face. The girls miss the bus, I can’t find Jack’s homework and we’re out of milk for my coffee. Nikki, on the other hand, greets every single part of her day with joy. Going downstairs? YAY!! Watching my human make breakfast? YAY!! Is that the bus outside? YAY!! Maybe that’s the secret – accepting every minute as something to be appreciated – and to find the fun anytime I can.
3. Let your people know you love them. Every day. Nikki loves me, and not just because I feed her. I know because she tells me all the time. She sits with me just to be near me. She trusts whatever I ask her to do. She’s always happy to see me, no matter how long I’ve been gone and she licks my toes. Life is uncertain – never leave any doubt in the minds of the people you love that you love them. It’ll be good for you and good for them.
4. Be optimistic. No matter what I’m cooking or eating – from Cheerios to pork chops – Nikki is always right at my feet. Sometimes, she’s so inconveniently positioned I’m convinced she’s trying to kill me – but then I realize – she’s eternally optimistic. She’s sure a honey nut O or a piece of fat will manage to land on the floor and ultimately, in her tummy. She expects good things to happen, and as a result (and her pleading brown eyes) good things often do.
5. Spend a little bit of every day outside. Nothing makes Nikki happier than the promise of outside time with her people. Whether it’s standing in the yard barking at our neighbor, Duke, or a hike through the woods in the town park – Nikki loves being outdoors. She runs and jumps and explores with actual joy. Try it. Take a walk around your neighborhood, or take a bike ride with your kids – I promise – you’ll feel better afterward.
Do you have a dog? What life lessons have they taught you?