Jan 9, 2011

Lessons learned from Canine Companions

Many of us reflect at the beginning of the new year. I have been thinking about why I love working with other people's dogs and my own so much. After all, the verb "work" does not always have a positive connotation.

To me, there is "good work", as in the concept of "meaningful work" serving the greater good. I have been a professional in the field education my entire career, for instance, because I believe in the value of public education. Yet, I can see where public education is failing some segments of our diverse communities. School teachers strive for "good work" as evidenced by the many sacrifices they make to serve other people's children. Of course teachers are in it because we are rewarded in many ways and we are lifelong learners ourselves. I tend to agree with the sentiment, that every one you meet is one's teacher in some way.
I extend that to the dogs I meet now, as well.
Good work could be what brings passion to your life.
In my case, I am passionate about learning more about dogs and sharing that with anyone who will listen and act!
This morning I looked at my dogs, who were eager to get the day going by playing outside, even though it is very cold and wet out there.
When you have spent time and energy to foster good relationships with dogs, these are the lessons I have learned.
1.) Time's awastin'! Get up and let's go play. Let's have some fun right now!
Opal's eyes on me urge me to get up out of the chair, go outside and get some fresh air. Her coal black eyes plead,"Time is fleeting, we have so little time together, please, let's go enjoy it together." Her Zen-like approach to life is right, you know. Make the most of the present. Act. Now. Be present.
If she wasn't as insistent, I would not go on as many walks, nor notice the delights of the changes in weather. I would be content to stay in my chair and would miss that sensation of greeting a new day when the cold air is warming and rising from the ground after a night's long rain. Their delight at greeting the day at dawn, becomes my delight. They teach me to look at life through canine eyes.
2.) Take the time to stretch when you get up. There is plenty of time to stretch and yawn.
Jasper has rear hip and leg issues. Though eager to go outside to see what mischief the squirrels are into, he takes his time to limber up with a slow yoga-like downward dog pose. I have learned to warm up, too, as the wear and tear on my body is becoming more evident the older I get. Good advice, Jasper. Thanks.
3.) Some friendships take longer to cultivate. But they are worth taking the time and effort.
Scooter, a darling Norfolk terrier from the streets, is cautious of new people. He is obviously attached to his new human, but not so willing to approach me. As we share dog stories and sometimes laugh at our exchanges in a light mood, Scooter's new person points out to him- lying on the floor - stretched out on his side between us. I have become more aware of my tone of voice, body posture and my general emotional state because of lessons learned from dogs.
4.) Good humor goes along way.
To say the least, Opal is persistent in her attention-getting strategy. When she is over-the-top, however, she is polite enough to go lie down, per request. She has found that showing me how much fun she is having tossing her ball in the air and catching it herself or batting the ball around like a soccer ball under the couch, making a goal, can entice me to join in her game. Her joyful antics do capture my attention. She can bounce the ball off the floor and catch it herself . She will silently sit staring quizzically and undeterred at a chair where the ball has disappeared until she is noticed. Though an expert tease, she is good humored enough to share her toys with you.

5.) If you are like an aunt to your friends' dogs, you don't end up with so many dogs in your house.
Since I love all sorts of dogs, it would be so hard to choose a favorite breed or temperament.
I like feisty, tenacious, mellow, short-legged, long-legged, 4-legged, 3-legged, friendly, cautious, confident, insecure. Having the chance to visit with friend's dogs (and clients) fills me up with that experience I need to interact with all different kinds of canines. Otherwise I am sure I would have at least a dozen dogs living in my small abode with me.

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