On What My Dogs Have Taught Me

As I revealed in the "On Being 30: How Life Has Changed Between 20 & 30" post, I am a proud dog mom of two lovely girlies: Olive and Chloe {pictured below}.  We have good days and we have less-than-good days; we have mud prints up the stairs days and we have "Mom, rub my belly" days.  Overall, I am grateful each day that they have come into my life.  My dogs make me a better person.  Here's some of what they've taught me.

Olive and Chloe

Cuddle time is my favorite time.

Although I have joined myself in marriage to my husband, and despite all of his wonderful characteristics, he does not (always) cuddle on demand, nor feel like cuddling at any time, the way I would (generally) not mind, particularly in the winter.  Our girlies, Olive and Chloe, on the other hand, come to snuggle up, often without prompting or invitation.  If there is a side to press up against or an arm to wrap around them, they're there.  No matter where I decide to read, there is always room for one or both of them to come up and join me.  Life is so good.

I long to/ strive to be outdoors.
One of the first things we taught Olive was to ring a bell hanging on the back door when she wanted to go outside.  This eliminated the awareness that barking might provide a similar result.  Using her nose, she shakes the bell strap when making her request.  She even taught Chloe how to do it when we welcomed her into our family. 

All this is to say, between begging for treats from a retired neighbor, "showing off" by wrestling and playing, sun bathing on the deck, and just going out to watch for squirrels, these girls LOVE their outdoor time.  They not only love it, they need it.  (And in my opinion, so do we!)

A walk will make you feel good any time.

Whether you're sad, tired, annoyed, bored, happy, chatty, or otherwise, you should plan for a walk to boost your spirits or keep you feeling great.

Though walks are wonderful in and of themselves, sometimes people feel that they are "unproductive" or "inconvenient."  Here are a few ideas that just may change your mind:

- use your walk to make a phone call--whether it is handling business calls, arranging a Craigslist meeting, or a personal phone call, you can walk while you talk.  That, my friends, is what they call "two birds, one stone."

- make it a family affair--instead of sitting around talking/ playing on your phones/ watching TV, grab your kids, parents, siblings, spouses, or pets and hit the road!  Remember, if you sit less, you'll likely live longer!

- trade in your dessert for a walk--ditch your post-dinner dessert and get your blood and brain pumping!

- try a walking meditation--instead of trying to feel "productive," in the most conventional sense, maybe you would like (or benefit from) a walking meditation.  In this practice, you simply walk with intention, focusing on your breath and present moment, taking in your surroundings (perhaps the sounds of the birds, the wind on your skin, the sunshine, the pavement under your feet) and limiting your judgment regarding them.

- remember to have a good time--this post talks about that concept in everyday life, but making outside time fun and part of your routine must be enjoyable, so let it be!

Even without words, we communicate so much.

Sometimes we think that we need to speak/ give advice/ provide opinions in order to comfort someone.  My girls have taught me, however, that this simply is not true.  Chloe, in particular, my extra sensitive baby, is excellent at not only knowing how I'm feeling, but coming to my rescue, so to speak, when I need it most.  (This is not a one-sided relationship--I feel I do this for her as well, but it is sometimes surprising to contemplate how in tune she is for not actually having full grasp of the English language...)  The cuddling, as mentioned, is one part of this communication, but it isn't all of it.  The girls coexist, sharing their bed, toys, water bowl, and even food.  They take shared walks, get the same treats (well, Olive is a little more skeptical of any non-biscuit treat, so she often forgoes these...), and generally get our attention equally.  With all of this together time, sometimes they can get inpatient with one another; though we don't hear any argument, when moods change, we can all feel it.

Worries shouldn't always worry us. / Life is beautiful and worth celebrating.

The best aspect of being a dog owner, in my opinion, is being exposed to their unending joy for life.  They remind me that it is OK to be excited!  And when things break or get dirty, is it isn't really a big deal.  They demonstrate how easy it is to see life more as a gift and be thankful for each day as it passes.  Though they don't have bills or other human responsibilities, they have taught me so much about the kind of mindful and grateful life I want for myself and I deserve.

So, what have you been learning from your pet(s)?

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