What My Dog Taught Me

I realize that there are t-shirts with titles like this but I couldn’t think of anything better. I was going through my private Facebook pictures and realized nearly everything I post has something to do with my dog. That got me to thinking about how important she is in my life and how many good things she brings. Sharing that seemed like a good idea.

My girl is a rescue, sort of. We found her on Craigslist. We are not sure about why her family gave her away other than to speculate she willed them to with her doggie superpowers so she could get to us. That sounds nuts maybe but she is that kind of dog. She is a Golden/Yellow Lab mix and should be hyper and goofy and prone to eating shoes. She is none of those things. She is calm and patient and loving which brings me to the point of all this, what she has taught me.

She came into my life at a pivotal time. It was the end of one cycle of change and the beginning of another, although I didn’t know that yet. She showed me that small things, like taking her for a walk, helped clear my mind so I could make good decisions. These were BIG kinds of decisions and I have sorted out more in this last year while waiting for her to poop than in the previous 5 combined.

She showed me that mellowing out is not as hard as it seems. As I grow anxious and fretful at the dinner table with the chaos of bickering children, I look over and see her lounging on the couch. I stop ranting and say “I need more of that!” pointing at her. My step son says “Don’t we all?” and we laugh and then we have that very thing.

When I am alone in the house and it is cold out at night, I am no longer alone. Neither am I cold. She is my constant companion, a presence that, while not human, is alive and soothing. It allows me to remain in myself while looking at her. She curls her hulking self up to me no matter how small the available space and loves me in the way dogs do…because we are here and we are worth loving, nothing more.

When I see her play with my partner and watch all the concern drain from his frame, I am grateful again. She shifts us from our worried heads to our immediate present. Play with me, love me. She is like a child that way but she clearly holds more wisdom and is less fragile and dependent. Play with me, love me and I’ll teach you something. This is all I am. This is all I need. This is all you need, at least right now.

She does other stuff too. She eats snotty tissue from the trash, she sheds, she begs for food in the kitchen and she left the most vile smell on my comforter last night but none of that irritation matters to me. I view her like a living meditation, a touch stone of present being. I want to be more like her.

This is about a dog but I think it’s more about being connected to something grounded and uncomplicated. I am convinced that we all have some dog zen (or cat zen, or horse zen. . .maybe snake zen? Whatever you love) in there somewhere. We need to find it and then spread it around to others. Be the serene in the chaos. Be the love without judgement. Have a good roll in the grass.

*shake shake shake shake* *flop*