Things I Learned from my Dog

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When you own a dog, if you’re at all observant, you’ll soon notice how they at times seem like little angels of wisdom, sent to us to teach us lessons.

I swear at times, when I look into my dog Taja’s peepers, there’s an ancient, very wise being living in there, like a mini Yoda.  I’ve had her for ten years now, and there have been oh so many times when she just gave me an all knowing look, like, yeah chick, get it together will you?

Maybe she’s a reincarnated guru.  Maybe all dogs are.

A brief Google search will turn up a lot of articles on this subject, but I still wanted to write why own thing.  Some are in other articles, simply because they are the gospel truth.  Here is a list of some the the things my dog has taught me over the years:

1.    Dogs teach us taking a break is ok.

Now, I’m a professional full-time artist, and that means a lot of time downstairs in my basement studio. It’s a solitary job.  My dog hates it down there, and after a while, she’l start scratching at my feet, wanting me to stop working and head upstairs.

She doesn’t want to do anything upstairs other than sleep on the couch, or her little bed, but she still wants me out of the studio.  It can be irritating at times when I’m on a time crunch and need to get things done, but I get.

She’s telling me, “Take a break will ya!”   I know when to listen.

2.     Dogs show us how to love unconditionally.

Ever notice how if you reprimand your dog for being naughty, they quickly forgive you and just want to plant a big one on your face?  They just love.  You can be the worst jerk on the planet, yet they will just look at you like you are God.  And you are to them.  They won’t hold anything against you, even if you weren’t always perfect.  They just love.  We should all love so genuinely.

3.     Dogs always rely on their instincts.

We have a lot of coyotes in our neck of the city, and there have been nights when I take my dog out for her last business, where she stops dead in her tracks, sniffs the air, pees on the spot, and refuses to go any further. Her usual routine is to sniff out some spot further out, but once in a while, it’s like she knows there’s something and you can tell she gets scared. I’ll find cat fur the next day, and other remnants.  It happens more often than I’d like. Dogs, all animals, rely on their instincts. They can sense danger. They can also often sense bad people.

I know a lot of left brain types will guffaw at this, but instinct is a real thing.  We are animals, and way back in the day, we used to rely on your instincts to save us from sabre tooth tigers.

We’ve learned to turn off our instincts. We’ve been taught it’s bogus.

Throughout my life, whenever I’ve trusted my gut feelings, I was never steered wrong.  Whenever I ignored it, I paid for it and it was always an, “I knew it!” moment where I just knew I should’ve went with my gut feeling.

There was a time when I was a teen walking home in the dark, I felt like I was being watched.  I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand. I couldn’t hear or see anything, but I just knew and adrenaline kicked in. Fight or flight. Flight won and I bolted and ran to my friend’s, just to see the shadow of a person on the house next to the house I ran to.  There definitely had been someone following.

Trusting my gut has warned me about people and situations, and it has also let me know when things were right.  Positive intuition can be choosing between job A or B, or any other situation where you know if you decide on it, things will be amazing. Not everything is bad when I comes to instinct, but ignoring it is.

Trust your gut. It knows.

4.     Dogs show us how to treasure the little things.

Show up with a $2 toy, and a dog lights up like you just bought a $10 million yacht.  My dog loves each and every single one of her fifty plus toys.  Yeah, she has a lot, but it’s fun to see her light up every time she gets a new toy.  She even loves the old ripped up toys.  She is grateful.

Being grateful for all the little things in our lives and appreciating them helps make us happier humans.  Seriously.

Have you ever noticed how miserable people are never satisfied with anything?  They complain constantly about what they don’t have, or what they do have, or what the Jones have.  They are just never grateful.  Happy people appreciate little things, like staying in and ordering pizza for Valentine’s and snuggling while watching a movie instead of going out for dinner and getting diamond earrings.  Happy people get excited about the simple things in life.

Appreciate the little things, and the big fun things will show up.  If not, at least you’ll be happy with what you have,

5.     Dogs teach us to greet everyone with sincere excitement.

You come home from work and your dog is so freaking happy to see you.  He jumps and wants kisses, the tail is going nuts, and he is just so happy you’re home. Mine will even talk for a good five minutes.  When anyone comes through our door, especially my husband and I,  Taja does the excited song and dance, but then she’ll run around to everyone, back and forth, talking and howling,  “Look!  Look!  She’s here!”  It feels good to be so loved and appreciated. I can leave for two minutes and she’ll be just as excited.

Imagine if we greeted our spouses with this much excitement, how happy they would be to come home.  Heck, if my husband was that excited whenever I came home, I’d leave every hour for five minutes just to walk back in to that grand greeting.

Being appreciated feels good.  No need to lick faces or do cartwheels, but just genuinely being happy to see people makes people want to be with us.  We all want to feel loved and wanted by someone. It’s a basic need.

6.     Dogs teach us to not overthink relationships.

Dog.  You’re there, you feed them, walk them, play with them.  You sit on the couch together and watch tv. All is good.  It just is.

Human.  I wonder what he’s thinking.  I wonder why she called five minutes late.  Why did he say that? Why does she want to go there instead of being with me?

We humans tend to over analyze everything and it complicates relationships.  There’s a lot that can be written on this topic alone, but my point is just that we tend to complicate things rather than just going with the flow with people.  We tend to assume or imagine without cause some times, when we should just let things be.

If a friend hasn’t had the time to call in over a month, it doesn’t mean they don’t love us anymore. They just might be super busy and time went by way too fast. When your sister can’t babysit, it’s might not be personal.  She might just be tired.

I’ve been guilty of over thinking things too.  As I’ve gotten older, I’m realizing that there’s no need to over think everything.  There is a time to really analyze situations, but most of the time, we over think things.  We put too much pressure on ourselves and on others.

Just be.

7.     Dogs teach us that walks are good.  Walks are really good.

Ha!  Man, lemme tell you how there are times I really, really don’t want walk my dog.  I live way up in Canada, and it can get colder than -40 at times.  My dog still loves to walk up to about -15 Celsius.  I hate it.  The older I get, the colder I get. But, she needs to walk.

When I walk my dog, we sometimes run, other times she just wants to sniff around while I look at the birds, or a flower garden, or just down at my shoes.  I take in the fresh air, and it clears my head.  Sometimes on our walk, we socialize with some of the neighbours.  Walking my dog helps to keep me grounded and in the moment.

Walking also keeps us active.  It’s amazing what daily walking can do for the body, and no matter your fitness level, starting somewhere and working your way up will give you a lot of health benefits, as well as possibly extending your life,

It’s also a great time away from technology, for those of us smart enough to leave our phones at home or in our pockets, and just be present, enjoying a little quiet time with Fido.  It’s amazing the things you notice too when you’re not always looking down at a phone. I rarely bring my phone.  There’s absolutely nothing that is so important that it can’t wait.

8.      Dogs teach us to live in the moment.

There’s that just be thing again.

Dogs really don’t care about what happened an hour ago, and they certainly don’t care about what will happen a week from now.  They are just concerned about now, and as long as now is good and their basic needs are met, they’re happy.

We humans stress so much about the past and the future, that we can’t enjoy the present or enjoy the people around us right where we are.  All we have is now.  The past is over, and the present isn’t here yet. There is only now.  Dogs know that.

9.     Dogs teach us that naps are good. Take a nap.

Not much to elaborate on here, is there?  Naps are good.  They re-charge our batteries so we can do more.  Take naps.

10.    Dogs teach us that life is short.  Enjoy it while you can.

I don’t want to be morbid here, but not long before my mother passed away, she told me that life was short, so don’t waste time being mad.  My mother had a very difficult life and therefore had spent a lot of it being angry and bitter, rest her sweet soul. This is one of the things she regretted about her life, so much so, it was important for her to tell us to not stay angry.  That stuff can kill us, as I’m positive it did my mom.

Life is indeed short.  The older I get, the more it hits me just how short it is.

As I watch my aging dog, it saddens me to see her slow down and lose some of her spark.  My heart is breaking at the thought of her leaving in the next few years, or sooner, and it’s a constant reminder that not only do I need to appreciate every second with her, but I need to make the most of my own life.  I’ve become a goal digger.  I chase my dreams, no matter how crazy they seem.

I’ve quit jobs because they sucked the life out of me.  I’ve recently decided to stop doing commissions as an artist because they were sucking the life out of me too and stifling  my creativity. I’ve decided to paint what I want, what I’m inspired by.

I’m racing against the clock trying to fit in as much of anything and everything that will help me advance toward my dreams.  There is so much I want to do while journeying on this planet, so I’m focused on accomplishing my dreams and goals. And I’m also working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, but I’m so much happier doing what matters to me.

Life is short. Live it to the fullest, and live it the right way.


I think I could write a book about this alone,  and maybe some day I will.  But for now, I’ll just end this by starting that life is short. Don’t be angry.  Love.  Live in the moment. Take care of your body, as it’s the temple that houses your spirit and it must be honoured.  Enjoy the little things and stop to smell the roses.  Take naps, and don’t overwork yourself.  Chase your dreams, and always trust your gut!

Do you have any other things to mention that your dog taught you?



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