I have gained new found respect for the photographers of the Cute Puppy calendars. Every time I try to take a picture of the dogs, they end up looking like red-eyed demons. My son took this picture and I was thrilled because it perfectly captures Molly's personality.
Having both children and dogs, I am bound to learn a lot of life's lessons. Namely: unattended butter is bound to attract puppy nose prints or be smeared on the table. As my children have grown into a teenager and one just three months shy of being a teenager, I've realized lessons learned from older children are complex, ambiguous and hard to pinpoint. Lessons learned from dogs, however, are plain and simple with none of the ambivalence of adolescence. So today at least, I am focusing on lessons learned from my dogs.
See the Good in Those Around You. Love Unconditionally.
Dogs are pretty motivated by food and we feed our dogs, so of course, we're off on the right paw. Some animal behaviorists will argue it's all about the food. I beg to differ. Aside from finding a dead bird in the yard, we are our dogs' everything. They greet us with wagging tails and goofy smiles. They don't care that if our hair doesn't look just right, if the house isn't perfect, if we loose our tempers on a bad day, or even if we put them outside or in a room by themselves when dog-shy company comes over. They ask no explanation, demand no apology, and wag their tails with delight when we reunite, grateful to be let in again without holding a grudge. Chalk it up to short-term doggie memory, but how much better would our lives be if we all had short-term memories when it comes to seeing the good in the people around us?
We could learn a few lessons about constantly digging, sniffing, and watching. How much more aware would we be of others' needs? How much more could we learn and experience just by being more in-tune with our senses?
When we brought our youngest child (now six) home from the hospital, Molly intently sniffed the blanket-covered baby carrier as I walked down the hall. She sniffed with such interest that she ran into a wall as she was walking alongside me!
I'm told dogs never forget a scent. If that's true, during that moment, Karlee's scent left an indelible mark on Molly, and the two have grown together.
Be There for Your Friends.
Despite the fact we had to watch Karlee carefully around Molly so she wasn't knocked down by Molly's powerful tail, they have become great friends and co-conspirators while the big kids were at school. Molly has played games from Candy Land to dress-ups--all with patience. But the relationship has never been one-sided. Karlee, until just recently, would surreptitiously let Molly outside the front door to allow her to run up and down the street unattended.
Unless, of course, they've been let out, dogs are there for you when you want to walk, when you want to sit, and always ready for a trip in the car. For some reason, they never make plans other than you.
Celebrate the Moment.
How many times have we missed out on moments because we're worried about yesterday or tomorrow? Call it a limitation, but dogs don't let cluttered schedules take away from the now: a friend's return home, a slightly dry biscuit, a walk outside, deep snow, a pat on the back, are all luxuries to relish.