8 woofs of wisdom for the New Year
I am not really one to make New Year’s resolutions, because I think anytime is a good time to make changes, improvements and adjustments. But, during the holidays I spent a lot of free time with my dog, Buddy, and noticed that some of his daily actions are pretty inspiring.
Sure, he is just a dog, but that’s what makes him so authentic. His deeds come purely from his heart. They are not shrouded in fear or insecurities or biases. He doesn’t approach things with an agenda and he doesn’t care what people think of him. He just gratefully lives the life he has been given, something that we humans occasionally forget to do.
So, here are some “woofs of wisdom” practiced by my dog every day, which I hope will continue to rub off on me.
- Greet each day with gratitude – Buddy jumps out of his bed every morning wagging his little stump tail and wiggling his butt. He gives me a happy kiss on my nose and then runs to the back door to go outside, where sniffs his way through the garden like it is all brand new today, just for him. This daily exuberance is fresh and genuine and infectious. He has no expectations for the day ahead, yet he welcomes it with gusto and glee, not fear, not regret, not worry. He is just grateful and ecstatic to be alive so he can do it all over again, whatever “it” is.
- Stay active and play – He wants to exercise every single day. Even if his bad front left elbow is a bit stiff from running the previous day, he is still game for some sort of activity. A walk, a swim in the river, anything to get his heart pumping, lungs breathing, and muscles moving. Buddy doesn’t seem to worry about possible post-exercise aches or tiredness. He doesn’t care about how his performance stacks up against the dog down the street, or how he looks when he runs. He just wants to feel alive.
- No judging others – At the dog park, he associates with all types of dogs. Black ones, white ones, red ones and yellow ones; fat and skinny dogs; three-legged and blind dogs; dimwitted dogs and dogs with bad teeth; loud dogs, shy dogs and boy dogs that want to hump him. The only time he tends to keep his distance is when he feels he’s in danger of being hurt by an aggressive dog. Otherwise, he pretty much accepts them all, no matter their color, their weight, their sexual proclivities or whether or not they are the most popular breed in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club.
- Eat in moderation – When he eats, he enjoys every mouthful, but when he is done, he’s done. He doesn’t steal food off the kitchen counter, he doesn’t look for snacks, he doesn’t whine and beg for treats. And, paired with his enthusiasm for exercise, he is able to stay at a consistent healthy weight.
- Have solid work ethics – One of his primary jobs is to play fetch with me, and when he takes on that responsibility he immerses himself in it with enthusiasm and commitment. There is no half-ass effort, no clock watching, no slacking off or whining that he is bored. He finds joy and stimulation in the task and goes at it full tilt boogie, with wholehearted dedication for as long as it takes him to reach his goal of returning the ball to me, over, and over, and over again.
- Rest and rejuvenate – Sometimes during the middle of the day he will crawl into his crate, blissfully lay on his back, all four feet in the air, and take a long, restful nap.
- Love your family and friends – Well, this is a given with just about every dog in the world. They are loyal, dedicated, protective, and they love us in spite of our weight, moods, income, hairdo, and the bad outfits that we wear to the grocery store. I think they have built-in sensitivity radars. When I cry, Buddy nuzzles me. When I sing, he howls loudly and sings along. He sleeps peacefully next to the cat in front of the fireplace, and follows the old dog around when she goes outside to do her business, walking about a foot or two behind her, almost in a protective mode.
- Continue to learn as we get older – Even as Buddy ages he continues to improve his mind by learning new things. He is a herding dog, a very intelligent breed. Dogs of his ilk control entire herds of sheep and work alongside their masters to accomplish great feats. When I teach him a new command he works at it until he gets it right. Now, when I say, “Go back,” he runs to the back door to go outside. When I say “Go front,” he follows those instructions as well. I recently taught him to “Go get your clothes,” and he runs into the laundry room and grabs his collar off the hook so we can go for a walk.
Now, if I could just teach him to open a bottle of wine.