I had a whole plan this morning of getting off work, hunkering down with an ice cold sparkling water, and writing a new post all about the many wonderful lessons my dog has taught me. BUT, I learned via social media that TODAY actually is National Dog Day, (who decides this stuff, anyway), and so, for the accidental chance that this all aligned, this is a post for all of us animal lovers, pet havers, dog owners, and furry friend appreciators. I got my Jack Russell almost 8 years ago. I had been watching all those shows on Animal Planet about the thousands of dogs who needed homes, and decided that I was going to march down to the shelter and get a dog of my very own. As I was telling my mom of this new and exciting plan, she mentioned that she had just found out that her dog, Lily, was pregnant! I LOVED Lily and we had been trying to breed her for a while, so to find out that I could get one of her babies was pure delight to my ears. I instead told my sister Elena that she had to adopt from the shelter, and that I would be receiving one of Lily’s mini-mes. Hey, I’m older-first dibs. Through the months, I watched Lily’s tummy get bigger, could see the babies moving around inside her, could feel their little bodies if I touched very gently, and when it was time, I was able to watch her give birth to her littles.
I’ll never forget the day I was finally able to take Finley home. He cried and cried as he sat in his carrier in the front seat of my car, and I started crying because I felt so bad that he had to leave his mommy and I was scared to death to have my own little tiny being that was solely dependent on ME. We cried and cried together, but through my tears, I told him…’We are going to have so.much.fun.’ And you know what? From that day forward, it has been a ball. Just an all out ball. He has taught me more than I ever fathomed I could learn from an animal. He has taught me patience, how to care for something, how to love on a whole different level than I even knew I could, and how I can apply so many of his ‘dogisms’ to my own life. This post is dedicated to Finley Klickitat, the quirkiest little cat dog I know, and to all of the dogs out there who make this life so much richer just by being here.
#1: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Dirty.
Any time we are out on a walk, it doesn’t matter if it’s rain or shine, night or day, summer or winter, Finley has to find the muddiest, sandiest, smelliest area to tromp and run through. His hands down, absolute, most favorite thing to do is find a freshly fertilized lawn and go roll in it for as long as I’ll let him, to the point where he comes home smelling like a fish plant. It is disgusting. It makes my bed smell bad, he smells horrific when I smooch him and it lasts for days. But for some reason, I never stop him because he loves doing it. He always has the best time searching out the good spots, plunking down in the most odiferous patches of grass, and doing log rolls back and forth until he is completely satisfied. Sometimes in life, we have to get dirty, in every sense of the word, to achieve the ultimate level of happiness. Dirty in our day to day life, dirty in our jobs, dirty in our relationships, just flat out filthy. Just because it doesn’t always look pretty
or smell good doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Don’t be afraid to muddy things up…you just might end up happy…
#2: If You Have an Itch, Scratch it.
Not like that. I don’t mean to walk around all day scratching your stuff. However, dogs have no shame. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a room and caught Finley licking and scratching away so vehemently, that I actually hear myself say ‘I’m sorry’, and exit the room. He’s not embarrassed. He’s not ashamed. He’s just like, hey, this is me. I gotta take care of this. So let’s morph this into human lives. Just because someone doesn’t think you should be doing something doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you have an itch, scratch it. If you want to leave your corner office job, sell your car and hitchhike to Omaha, Nebraska to become a pro bull rider, scratch that itch. You do you. Someone who may be watching and thinking how ridiculous you look doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you. Scratch the itch, put yourself out there, make the move, buy the outfit, do the dance.
#3: When It Doesn’t Feel Good, Walk Away.
I have seen my dog be such a dick. Like, straight up a-hole. There have been so many times that we meet people on the street or get together with some of my friends, and they just want to pet and touch and love on Finley. And most times he’ll let them. But there are those times when people will reach down to make the connection, and Finley will just back away, and meander on his little ol’ trail, not even letting them get one single pet in. It hurts my heart a little because I know how exciting it is to meet a new animal and get to touch and connect with it. But who am I to force Finley into a meet and greet? If he’s not into it, well alright then. So many times throughout our daily lives, we put up with people who we can’t really stand and maybe don’t even like, and for what? Why do we do this to ourselves over and over again, when we just end up feeling drained and exhausted after spending time with them? Who said we can’t just back away and meander on our little ol’ trail? That’s it! No more letting people pet and touch us just because that’s the nice thing to do. That sounds dirtier than intended, but you get the gist, dontcha?
#4: Keep Your Eyes on the Drawer
I have this drawer that I keep all of Finn’s favorite dog treats in. He gets one treat out of it a day, usually late at night when I get off work. However, he has stared at that drawer for more minutes in a day than I can even begin to comprehend. Every time I am even remotely close to the drawer, he stares back and forth between it and me, it and me, thinking that telepathically, I will get the message to give him a chicken wrap. But, he KNOWS that he only gets a treat one.time.a.day. Just once. Never twice. But he is never ever ever discouraged. He is still hopeful that one day, I will open that drawer twice in a 24 hour period, and maybe, just maybe he will get a second treat. And so, my friends, let this be a lesson to us all. Never give up on the possibility of what could be. Just because it has never happened before does not mean it can’t ever happen at all. We all need to continue believing that what we want, need, desire and look forward to most is just within our reach, and maybe the drawer just needs to be opened…! Keep your eye on the drawer, you just never know when you’ll get that delicious treat.
#5: Find Something New in the Old
Every morning, Finley and I go the same route for his walk. Out the door, to the left, around the corner, down the street, past the rose bushes, along the neighbor’s lawn and back around the corner to end up at square one. We’ve been taking this route every single morning for 3 years, and Finley always find new things to look at, plants to sniff, squirrels to chase, branches to pee on, and other dogs to bark at. It’s the same route every single time, but he somehow always finds new situations that pique his interest and make his morning walk enjoyable for him. I often find myself in conversations with people talking about where we should move or what I can change to add more excitement to my life, and sometimes all it really takes is a different perspective. Maybe we don’t need to change anything except how we are looking at things, and things will become new again. Viewing our surroundings and daily ‘walks’ through a different lens might just be the simplest and easiest way to liven things up a bit. Who needs a new route when we can have a new perspective, eh?
#6: Unconditional Love is Priceless.
Of all the things that my chunky little fur baby has taught me, this is the most important. He has taught me that unconditional love is just that: unconditional. I have moved states with Finley 3 different times. I have left him at home all day with only a quick 5 minute walk before leaving again. I have introduced him to a handful of boyfriends. I have added cats to the family, and I have removed cats from the family. I have taken him on airplanes, road trips and boats. I have experimented on him with my hair trimming skills. I have introduced him to other dogs who have attacked him, I left him with new people for days at a time, and I have even forgotten to leave out water for him for a whole day. (I know, I’m still kicking myself for that one.)
This dog, no matter what has gone on in my daily life- good, bad, or ugly- looks me in the eyes, licks my face, and curls up with me in my most fragile moments, and makes me feel loved every single day. THAT, right there, is the best part of having a dog, and the one lesson that they are really here to teach us. To love unconditionally is not always easy, but when it happens, it is beautiful and magical and makes every ounce of life worth it. To love a person through it all, whether they just bought you the best gift on earth or forgot to leave out the water bowl for you, that is the best lesson we can learn from these fur babies.
Thank goodness for all the wonderful pets in our lives- dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, iguanas(?) Cheers to the lessons, the love and the many many smooches we get to plant on these guys. Much love from Me and Finley to you and yours. Happy National Dog Day!