8 Things My Dog Has Taught Me

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to regular readers that I’m a big fan of my dog. I’ve written about her a lot, both the good and the bad, mostly the bad.

I’d had dogs before, but not for a very long time, because the last time I had dogs, it didn’t end well. It took me a long, long time to get over their loss. It wasn’t until I met my current mutt three years ago, that I decided to try doghood again. Well, I didn’t have much choice in the matter, since I literally could not walk away from her little cage. From the moment we met, we just knew that we were right for each other. It was absolutely the closest I’ve ever come to love at first sight. With the exception of three days, we’ve been together ever since.

People who’ve never spent much time around dogs tend to think of them as rather unintelligent beasts, because they’re so easily subjugated. Or they think of them as scary, annoying or any number of other adjectives. Those people have obviously never formed a connection with a dog, because dogs are as close to the concept of enlightenment as this world allows.

These are some things that my dog has taught me about life.

1. Patience.

Dogs are very patient. They wait for us to come home all day and explode into a fireball of joy when we do. Dog’s worlds revolve around us, their people. If we’re not there, they will patiently wait until we are. Sometimes, when I get impatient sitting in traffic or waiting in line, I think about my dog sitting at home with her cat just waiting for me to finally get there and it makes me feel silly for getting so high strung.

2. Finding the path of least resistance.

My dog is not exceptionally smart. She’s of average canine intelligence, which is fine with me, since I’ve had very smart dogs before and they cause trouble when they’re bored. I used to have a border collie mix, one of the smartest dog breeds on the planet, and when he got bored, he got destructive. He chewed a hole in the kitchen floor one day.

My dog is not exceptionally smart, but she’s got common sense. She’s a problem solver. She likes figuring out how things work and she’s always looking for the path of least resistance. For example, at the dog park, when she’s chasing a dog that’s running around in big circles, more often than not, instead of chasing them around the circle, she’ll take a shortcut through the radius and cut them off. It makes me a proud mama.

3. Stopping to smell the flowers.

My dog doesn’t care how much money she makes, how nice her house is, how many new toys she has or what kind of car she drives. She never worries about her hair. She doesn’t obsess over weight. She is all about the little things. Every day, quite literally, she will stop and smell the roses. Dogs let the unimportant things slide and only worry about things that matter, things they can assess with their senses.

4. Trust is absolute.

Trust is earned, but once it’s given, it is absolute. Not that I ever would, but I could beat my dog and she’d come back for more. She would still trust me. This trait is what makes it so easy for people to abuse, neglect or otherwise mistreat dogs.

Every time I take her to the vet, she freaks out. In her eyes, it is not me who betrayed her trust by taking her to the awful place with the metal table where she gets poked and prodded. In fact, she comes to me, the very person responsible for her discomfort, for comfort.

5. Providing comfort is as good as receiving it.

My dog is terrified of fireworks. The Fourth of July is the worst holiday ever. She climbs in my lap and cowers when the fireworks start. She refuses to go outside at night. The only way she feels better is if I comfort her, which somehow makes me feel better, too. I didn’t realize that comfort can be such a tangible thing that can be given and taken.

6. Everything is funny.

Having a dog means having a constant source of entertainment. Every single day, my dog does something that makes me laugh from doing a ridiculous kick like a Clydesdale horse on parade after pooping to trying to figure out how to fit a giant exercise ball that’s bigger than her in her mouth. There is humor in everything every day.

7. Living joyfully.

My dog gets frightened, defensive, bored and confused, but the most consistent experience in her little life is joy. Seeing her tail wag makes me happy. Every day for her is an adventure. Perhaps dogs have an innate understanding of how short their lives are, but for whatever reason, every single day, my dog feels joyful, if only briefly. Sometimes, the only joy in my own life comes from her.

8. Unconditional love.

From the moment we locked eyes through a cage when she was only two months old, we’ve loved each other. She has somehow stolen my whole heart, but it’s okay, because she replaced it with hers. No matter what, for as long as she lives, she will love me with her whole being. That kind of love is hard to come by. It is a blessing and I am lucky to receive it.