Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lessons I've Learned From Buddy

Who would have thought that Buddy (my grandson's Australian Shepherd) and I would have become pals, since, after all, I'm not really a dog lover. In fact, when Payton first got Buddy, he put some of Papa's favorite cologne on him so that Nana would like him. Yes, that was appealing. LOL! Now, I've actually learned some valuable lessons from him? This post today is for folks like me and those who truly love their pets.

Each morning Buddy and I head out for our walk/run which of itself has been a great reason to rarely miss a day of getting exercise. In just a few days I'll be moving to my own home and I'm sure I'll miss him as my walking companion. It seems each day I learn valuable lessons from him. We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I just never thought that the roles could be reversed and that my friend, Buddy, would be teaching me.

Lesson One -- Restrictions are Good. Buddy and Emma (the Yorkie) the friendly dogs at the Wallace's, are kennel trained. They don't sleep with the humans here and they go to their kennels when we leave the house. Thus, no sleep disturbance in the night, and no messes or damages in the house when we're gone. I've seen those FB photos of dogs tearing up a house while their owners are away. Kennels are a great alternative! That's a great lesson for those who are getting a new puppy -- in my opinion, kennel training just makes good sense for the puppy and its owners. This note isn't for those who "LOVE" their pets so much that they enjoy their sleeping companionship and the "open to roam" in their home policy. But, like the restrictions placed on our furry friends, we need restrictions that hold us to safe, successful and peaceful living.

Lesson Two -- Stay Active -- Yesterday, Buddy was ecstatic, as usual, to head out for our walk. He actually goes somewhat ballistic until I get his leash on him, because he's so very excited. But, alas, I coudn't find the leash so I had to put him in the backyard to save my life from his over-abundance of joy! I finally found a camera case strap and made it work for a leash. Oh that we would be as exhuberant to get physical exercise and activity. We can learn a lot from our active canines by adding physical activity into our own lives. We can go for a walk, a swim, a bike ride, or even just climb some stairs. If Buddy could speak, he would probably tell us that being active is his greatest source of energy and joy.

Lesson Three -- Have Playtime -- Buddy loves to go out in the backyard to play a game of catch or fetch. He'll bring the tennis ball to me as soon as I go out the door with him. He loves running and retrieving it immediately, then he drops the ball at my feet and waits for me to throw it to him again. Thank goodness for the ball fetcher because I sure don’t like handling the slobbery ball when he brings it to me. Maybe it’s time to organize a game night – maybe break out that old hula-hoop out of the garage or play tag with a child or even break dance! We are never too old to inject a little playtime into our lives, and to rediscover many of the joys we felt as a child.

Lesson Four -- Do a Little Digging for Buried Treasure – Though the Wallace pets have been taught to not dig in the yard, they would sure love to if they could. Too often in life, we give up when the going gets tough, or we fail to dig deeper than the surface. Our dogs know that the best stuff sometimes lies beneath the surface, so why not keep digging? When we are initially put-off by meeting a new person, we can often find a great friend by digging deeper. When we have a disagreement, trying to find the root of someone else’s opinion can help us to find connection and compromise. And when we encounter a problem at home or work, being creative and digging deeper can lead us to exciting and unexpected solutions.

Lesson Five – Bond With Others – On our morning walks, Buddy and I will encounter lots of dogs in other yards, barking like crazy and defending their territory. Buddy was leash trained, so he looks at them like “What is your problem?” I think, if he could talk, he’d tell those dogs “Let’s make love – not war!” LOL! While dogs will sometimes growl at other dogs, if given the opportunity, they can teach us about the importance of bonding with others. As busy adults, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle, forgetting to make time for loved ones. Interaction with others can be a much-needed source of joy. We don't have to go it alone. Reaching out to a friend, or making a new friend, can truly make a difference in that other person’s life. And, spending time with others can be the first step on the path to making a difference in our lives.

Lesson Six -- Enjoy Eating -- Dogs don’t just eat their food; they enjoy their food! My Sweetheart taught this lesson to me. He would be the last one at the table because he ate so slowly as he savored every morsel of food. On the other hand, I scoffed mine down with the intention of wanting to get the kitchen cleaned up so I could have down time the rest of the night. Now, I look back and think “I wished I would have enjoyed my mealtime more with him. Life can be so busy sometimes that we forget to slow down and enjoy exactly what we are doing. Food doesn’t have to just be a source of energy; it can also be a source of pleasure. Now I realize, I should steal a page from Buddy’s playbook, and take the time to savor my meal — even if I’m going it solo!

Lesson Seven -- Run to Greet Those You Love – Hang Out With Those You Love -- There is something so wonderful about coming home to those dogs so excited to us. And, even just sitting down, and they just have to nudge in as close as they can to us. So why don’t we do this for each other? Appreciating the people we love and care about isn’t just something we feel, it’s also something we do. And what better way to show someone you care than by greeting them with a big hug or a kiss when they arrive home? And, what better way to show our love to someone, by getting as close as we can to them when we’re watching TV or just sitting down to relax. As adults, it’s easy to take our relationships for granted. But dogs know that every time you see someone you love can be just as exciting as the first. Remembering this can only strengthen our relationships.

Lesson Eight -- One of the most important lessons we can learn from a dog is to live in the moment. Dogs don’t have some big master plan. They aren’t worried about the past, and they aren’t terrified of the future. They live right here in the present moment. This canine mentality is truly a joyous and positive way of living our life. Stop to smell the roses. Let’s close our eyes and breathe in the fresh air. Let’s put our phone down and fully experience where we are. Maybe we should stick our heads out the car window with the wind blowing in our faces to remind us to live in the present.

Thanks, Buddy, for being such a good friend and teacher!