Some of My Most Important Lessons I Learned From Dogs

I was watching the NFL playoffs, when Terri announced she was taking our dog Annie to the emergency room. Not paying close attention, it took a minute for that piece of information to sink in and ask the obvious question, “What’s wrong?” The immediate and somewhat disdainful reply was, “Annie has a sore fanny.” A gland on the poor dog’s rear end had become inflamed and Terri wasn’t going to allow her to be miserable until we could get her to our regular vet.

Everything turned out O.K. The dog was comfortable and Terri had four hours of waiting to catch up on reading. Me, I got to thinking about the ordeal. With no idea that it was for her own good, Annie went through painful prodding, poking and a shot. However, due to her faith in Terri, she stayed calm through it all and afterwards still loved Terri as much as before. I thought about faith: faith in a spiritual sense but also faith in family, friends and colleagues. I pondered the importance of allowing yourself to have someone you trust so much that you intuitively know the advice they impart, even if painful, is for your own good. Like Annie, rather than taking offense at a perceived criticism from someone close, be assured that this action was meant to help not hurt.

However long you have been gone, your dog is glad to see you. There are “experts” who will say that is because a dog has no sense of time, that they have no idea if you have been gone an hour or a month. Who knows – I’ve never asked a dog to keep time. I do know that nothing brightens a dreary day more than a loyal friend barking and spinning in excitement at my returning home. That’s something else I have learned from dogs: to let your friends, family and colleagues know that you are glad to see them. I have learned to try to put aside what I am working on, to smile and to listen. It’s amazing what a difference it will make not only in your relationships but also in your personal outlook.

One bad shot can sometimes ruin my golf game. Sometimes it will take two or three holes to get over a shank, hook or slice. Because they live in the present, dogs would never let a slice throw them for a loop. Probably because she slipped at one time, Annie intuits that certain areas of our wood floors are dangerous. However, I am sure she doesn’t awaken at night and ponder how she should have walked across the floor or worry how tomorrow she will get from one side of a room to the other.

When I see someone my age dressing as if they were thirty-years younger I think about Cher’s song, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” However, we can’t turn back time. What has happened has happened; we can act on it, we can learn from it, we can forget it but we can’t change it. Like Annie, we need to learn from the past but live in the present.

It’s difficult to consider an animal that tries to bite her tail and thinks the living room is a great bathroom as a roll model. However, the attributes that make a dog an outstanding companion are also what make a dog a good role model: attributes such as trust, a genuine pleasure in seeing those you care about and not brooding about the past.


A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.” – Robert Benchley


2 responses to “Some of My Most Important Lessons I Learned From Dogs

  1. Beautifully written.

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