What I’ve Learned From My Dogs

Sometimes, Facebook memes can get out of hand when they are given to a writer and the meme in question asks you to write something about something that you’re very passionate about. This meme was entitled, “What I’ve learned from my dogs.” My response got long enough that I felt it warranted a blog post, but also, the things I’ve learned from my dogs are important because they aren’t just about being a dog owner, they are also about life. I have been honored to have been loved by six dogs in my adult life and the three that are gone, I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but I will never forget the things that they taught me.

Reilly

My old man, taken in 2008. He passed the following summer.

 

Reilly: I learned to love the Labrador Retriever because of his amazing temperament and very forgiving nature, including being forgiving when I would make stupid mistakes. He is the reason that I read The Monks of New Skete (their training methods are out-dated, but their insight on the pack structure of dogs and how they communicate with each other, and in particular their observations on puppy development are invaluable to a first time dog owner!), Brian Kilcommons (Good Owners, Great Dogs, is still my training bible) and Barbara Woodhouse… and many more. He also taught me what it means to lose your best friend, but the time was right for him to go and we had a good life. Love you forever and a day, old man!

Mugen

Mugen, taken when he was about a year old the first time we took him to the water and let him cut loose. Run free sweet boy.

 

Mugen: Dog school is THE BOMB! Puppies are so amazing and wonderful! No wonder everyone wants puppies! Cuddling on the sofa when it’s 5 below zero outside, with a fire in your fireplace is the best thing there is. Best of all, it’s all about the journey. Our time was short, but we had a LIFE! Miss you Mr. Puppy Man. I truthfully do not know that I will ever be whole again after losing Mugen, but I take a lot of comfort in knowing that we had a great ride and that he will always be a part of me.

Silly Silly Belly Belly Girl

Miss Lucy, the day we fenced in our yard. The first thing she did was roll around in the grass and prove to me that she really was an honest to God dog, even if she refused to get her feet wet, ever.

 

 

Lucy: Don’t forget to take a little cheese with you everywhere you go. Love, love, love, love EVERY DAY! Do everything that you love, with the people that you love, because you never know when something like cancer is going to sneak up on you and take them away from you. Sometimes, losing your best friend hurts like hell, but sooner or later, you DO start to smile again, especially when your best friend was as goofy and wonderful as Lucy was, you can’t help it. Besides, how many dogs stick their tongue out at the camera and roll their eyes if you’re not quick on the draw with their cookies? LOL!

Jazzmin

Jazzmin is all about the fetch, and if you add a river to the game, you’ve just given her the best thing in the entire universe.

Jazzmin: Um…. HELLO!? FETCH?!

Seriously, did you think anything else would fit here? You have to take time every day to stop and play fetch. It does not matter if your car blew up, that your cell phone exploded in your face, or if you ran out of coffee. None of that stuff is important. What’s important is getting the hell out of your house and playing with your dog and looking at that SMILE on their face when you throw that bumper as hard as you can! Serious bonding happens over games of fetch, or attempting to teach your dogs how to play fetch. Do not ever skimp on the fetch!!! Once your dog learns it, it is a skill they will have for life and it is the one thing that will ALWAYS take your bad day and turn it around, because all it takes is a stick and ten minutes, and you’ve made your dog’s day. If you can do that for her, then you must not be so bad off after all.

Jet!

Jet, if you didn’t already realize it, is the one that’s flat out on his back in the floor. He’s such a dork.

 

Jet: Every day, every hour, every minute, every second MATTERS! Time you spend doing nothing, is time wasted! Time you spend doing something, even if it’s something that you don’t like, or something that annoys you, is time well spent because sooner or later, even the worst, most annoying thing you have ever dealt with (Jet, when I adopted him, for example) has the potential to become the best stupid decision you ever made. You just have to get on top of it and dig deep. If you do, the good stuff will be there waiting for you.

 

 

 

Lexi

Also a dork, and never to be outdone by Jet for silliness, sweet Miss Lexi. Sometimes, I mess up and call her Lucy, she reminds me so much of my sweet yellow girl, but their names are also really similar and I just want to clear the record, I didn’t name EITHER of them! It just happened that way.

 

Lexi: There is a huge divide between a novice dog owner and an experienced one. Huge. Lexi’s previous owner was a novice. She told me that she was concerned that Lexi had anxiety disorder because she paces and whines constantly. When I adopted Lexi, she had a UTI. As it turns out, after living with Lexi for a while, that pacing and whining behavior happens because she has to pee, not because she’s anxious or freaking out. That’s how she asks to go to the bathroom and she WILL not urinate in the house. She did once, which is how I discovered her UTI, and when I walked into the room and caught her in the act, she hid behind my couch for an hour. She was probably potty trained by the old stick and newspaper method, poor baby. Her previous home did not have a yard. She had to be taken to potty on lead and when dogs have UTIs they are afraid to empty their bladders because it hurts. So they go a little, several times a day, or will try to hold it until they explode. Lexi was the go a little, a lot more often sort of dog. Her previous owner thought she was doing the right thing by rehoming Lexi and it was the right decision for a lot of reasons, but I now completely understand the gap between a novice and an experienced dog owner. I saw Lexi’s behavior and I took her to the vet. Her previous owner saw it and thought it was anxiety. Lexi has confidence issues, not anxiety. She is terrified of fireworks and thunder, but that’s really about it. She does NOT panic when she’s left alone. She whines a lot when I leave the house, but that’s really because she views me as her boss and the rest of my family is still a little gun shy about working with her and they need to get off their duffs and give this dog boundaries! All of this will improve with time as my family gains the confidence to work with Lexi without me in the room. I’m sure Lexi will teach me more things too, but she and I are still new at this whole relationship thing. We’ll get there.

What have you learned from your dogs?