The Top 5 Things I Learned from My Dogs
Angels from Above
In 2016, the pet industry banked a whopping $16.82 billion in sales. I helped create numbers like these most of my life since I’m one of those dog moms who would spend my last penny making certain my dogs had what they needed, and even what they didn’t need. Toys galore, super nice dog beds, the best food, and the best health care. Annual sales figures and doggy shopping sprees show just how crazy in love we are with our pets! But as much as we give to our pets, they seem to give us even more and in ways we might have never imagined.
I love all animals, but I have a serious affinity with dogs. I’m nuts for rescues and hounds, too. I have had three dogs in my life as an adult and loved each one so much, it’s almost as if I birthed them myself. Here is a photo of two of my dogs, Buster and Taylor. Buster is on the left. Though both have crossed over the bridge in the last few years, the love we shared can be felt in my heart like they are still here today. They were, and are, my family members.
I think the one thing I experienced more with my dogs than anything else was pure, unconditional love. This is the kind of love we almost never experience with another human being, or with ourselves. My dogs never cared what my hair looked like, what kind of house they lived in, or how my day was going—they loved me all the time. When I was unwell, they never left my side. When I was busy, they patiently waited for me to take them for a walk. These kids were angels from above every day of my life. I learned more about how to truly live and love from them than I did from anything or anyone else in my life.
The Top Five
I have adopted all of my fur kids from shelters or rescues. Over the years, I watched them grow up, enjoy life on sunny days and rainy days, and touch the lives of everyone they met in the most beautiful way. I learned a lot from these angels. I compiled a top five list to share with you.
- Live for the moment. When you watch dogs play, eat, sleep, or just hang out next to you while you read, you realize they live in the moment. They don’t dwell on the past and they don’t live for some made-up future. They live now. They enjoy life now. They love now.
Unlike dogs, humans have been trained, especially in the Western World, to think and do more than live and love. But this isn’t natural for us and, therefore, makes us stressed, unwell, and unhappy. Deep down, we know this is true, but we are pushed around by a mind that is disconnected from our hearts and from love. We can change this!
We have the power to live, not think, our way through life just like our dogs do. This can be done by noticing how much we think about things that aren’t really happening. When this is noticed, let the thoughts come and go without getting involved in them. They are just thoughts—there is nothing we have to do about them. Be willing to let old patterns of thinking go no matter how much your mind tells you that you have to pay attention to them. The truth is, love is natural and in the state of being that emanates from our heart rather than from our mind, we are free to live in the moment like our dogs.
- Walk and run every chance you get. Every Saturday was what I called Dog Day! We got up early in the morning, had a quick breakfast, and headed to the dog park. It was 10 acres of fenced in, total fun. The dogs chased each other, chased other dogs, chased the tennis ball, and chased me. But this was really no different than when we were at the house. The dogs played and chased each other up and down the stairs non-stop. Walks were This is the natural and happy way to live.
We all know exercise is good for us, but we often approach it with disdain. We moan, drag our feet, and find any excuse not to get off the laptop and move about. This makes any exercise much harder and much less enjoyable.
Maybe we could approach exercise from our dog’s point of view. I never heard my dogs whine or complain when I asked them if they wanted to go to the dog park. Instead, they jumped with joy. Maybe we can think of exercise in the same way—as an opportunity to play, move, run, and have fun. Of course, getting our heart rate up at least three times a week for about 20 minutes is super healthy for us. Walking at a good clip is also healthy, but it can be lots of fun, too. All it takes is a willingness to look at walking, or any other exercise, from our dog’s point of view—fun, fun, fun!
- Have fun with others regardless of their size or color. My dogs loved everyone they came in contact with, embraced them as part of the pack, and made them feel special and loved. It never mattered to them what color of skin the person had, where they grew up, or what they looked like. Pretty, not pretty, thin, fat, Democrat, Republican—my dogs didn’t care. They loved everyone the same.
How would the world change if we treated others the way our dogs treated others? Peaceful? Joyful? Healthy? Connected? Loving? In my heart, the world’s population would experience all of these with this simple act of love. Let’s treat others with love, regardless of what our mind/training tells us. I bet our lives, and the life of the planet, would change dramatically for the better!
- Snuggle often with those around you. Dogs love to snuggle and be close to us. If they are sitting next to us, they often nudge us to scratch their ears or rub their belly. They love to be touched. Some believe dogs love to be touched because it mimics the touch of their mothers when they are young. One thing is for certain, touch is as good for people as it is for dogs.
In a study done at North Carolina University, it was found that women who frequently hugged their partner or spouse, for as little as 20 seconds, had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t hug their partners or spouses. This may be because a warm embrace increases oxytocin levels in the brain, which may be responsible for lowering blood pressure over time.
The cool thing is, it doesn’t matter if the touch from another is a handshake, a pat on the back or an all-out embrace, the body’s reward system still responds favorably. Additionally, it doesn’t matter if you are being touched by another or if another is touching you—all that matters is that the connection is made. It seems our dogs know what they are doing when it comes to snuggles!
- Love without expectations or conditions. My dogs loved me no matter what I did or didn’t do. I might be gone all day, but I came home to two dogs who ran at me full speed ahead, knocked me over, and kissed my face like I was the only thing that mattered in the universe. Funny thing was, I got the same treatment if I went to the mailbox or took out the trash. My dogs wrote the book on the meaning of absence makes the heart grow fonder—even if that absence was two minutes long.
There was never a time when my dogs required anything of me in order to love me. They just did, without fail. Unfortunately, many of us don’t treat other people, or ourselves, the same way. Instead, we often demand that others do this or act like that so we will approve of them or love them, which, to the ego, is the same thing. This is a stressful, unnatural way to live. There is no love in this, only fear. Let’s love like our dogs do—without any expectations or conditions. In that pure state of love, there is nothing but love. Imagine how stress-free and uncomplicated life would be for all of us if we loved each other like our dogs love us!
So, let’s be more like our dogs. The benefits for health, connection, joy, and love are unlimited!
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