Ever since I was little, I wanted a dog. In fact, I’m pretty sure I checked out every single library book about every single dog breed during elementary school. After reading them cover to cover, I would tell my mom all about the dog of my dreams.
“We should get a golden retriever,” I would say. “Because they’re loyal, they play ball, and they’ll love you no matter what.”
Although my family never got a golden retriever, we eventually tried our hands at being dog-owners.
After struggling to find the right pooch for our household and watching countless episodes of Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer, we found Noel.
A miniature schnauzer-West Highland Terrier mix, Noel is the perfect combination of curiosity, strength, and, of course, love.
Plus, across her nearly 13 years of life, she has taught me some of life’s most important lessons.
Focus on the here and now
While our pets have varying memory spans, they don’t dwell on the past. Sure, they remember how to ‘sit’ and ‘speak,’ but they don’t let yesterday ruin the present moment. Likewise, they aren’t constantly bothered with questions about their future, such as “What kind of job will I have?” and “How will I be able to get an A on that test?”
Instead, our pets seem to follow a fool-proof routine each and every day: Wake up, eat, exercise, sleep, repeat.
Now, certainly our days are not as simple as our animals’. But, why should we waste time worrying about the past and fearing the future. Wouldn’t you rather go with the flow like our pets?
Although we will all have our ups and downs, every day is always a gift. Value it as such, keep moving forward, and you may be able to finally understand how your dog or cat is so happy.
Family is important
As you may know, dogs are pack animals. Therefore, they rely upon each other to keep the group balanced, healthy, and happy.
And let me tell you — humans are not much different.
Since the time of Adam and Eve humans have been destined to be together. But, I get it: work keeps you busy, studying for that exam means you cannot hang out on Saturday, and your nights are meant for sleeping.
With all of these preoccupations, you can easily put off meeting your sister for coffee or even calling a friend from college. But, in doing so, you may actually be setting yourself up for mental disaster.
Look to your cat or dog. Sure, they may be the only furry friend in your home, but they rely upon you for everything. And, while it’s nice to be independent, we can’t do everything on our own. In fact, Bill Wither’s classic song tells us, yes, “we all need somebody to lean on.”
So, take a cue from your animal and make time for your pack. Like dogs, doing so will refuel and secure your mental well-being.
Don’t forget to listen
Besides barking and meowing, our animals will never say a word to us (unless you know this Husky). But, that doesn’t stop us from loving them.
As a communication major, I understand the value and importance or words. As a dog-owner, I understand the value and importance of listening.
Every day, I talk to my dog as if she were one of my friends: I tell her about my day, pretend she’s a live studio audience when I’m baking up a dessert, and inform her of life’s newest challenge. I know she will never be able to verbally respond, but her tentative eyes and perked up ears tell me she loves me enough to listen.
Although conversations require us to talk some of the time, we don’t always need to give our two cents.Often times, we may unknowingly shift the focus off of others and back to ourselves. Likewise, in today’s tech-obsessed culture, it’s so easy to half-listen to others.
But, make a change today and, like your pet, practice the art of listening.
Painted on the wall of my vet’s office is this quote: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France
Animals are amazing creatures. Not only do they love us, but they show us how to love. And, to me, that seemingly simple skill may be the best lesson we can learn from them.