For 33 years I dreamt of having a Golden Retriever. Or any dog, to be perfectly honest:-) But until last year, my living circumstances always said ‘no.’ I remember my husband, Eric, calling me last May and saying, “Landlord says we can get a puppy!” I cried, I jumped around, I smacked my forehead and sobbed “I can’t believe it, really?!”
So Libby (above) bounded into our family and has wrung more joy out of our daily lives then we knew was possible.
In honor of her turning 1 this Saturday it led me to ponder…why do dogs have such a profound and special impact on our hearts?
1) Dogs are like the dogification of Happiness. They revolve their lives around the simple pleasures; play, food, smooshing in the grass, rolling in the sun, tearing through open gates. So often spiritual teachers tell us that life is really quite simple, but that we humans tend to over complicate it, leading to stress, dis-ease and dissatisfaction. Dogs are unashamed joy-chasers; such vibrant representations of what happiness is all about. I saw a cute anonymous quote this morning that said “whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about puppies.”
2) Dogs don’t discern when or when not to dish out their love. Their love is bountiful and unconditional. They don’t care if you’ve not showered for days, if you’re sweaty, or grumpy, or unpopular at school. They love you just the same. And the best bit? They demonstrate that love. How can you not feel immeasurable joy when your dog is flying at you, tail swooshing, after the supermarket run? How can your eyes not sparkle when your dog is covering you cheek lick after chin lick? And doesn’t it puddle your heart when they snuggle in bed with you, a protective paw over your chest? Always there. Always care.
We talked last week in Self Love about how surrounding yourself with supportive company is primary to learning to love and accept yourself. Well, my friend, you can’t beat a dog for showing you just how incredibly loveable you are. And because these unique companions show us such unconditional love they’re so easy to adore back, bursting open the walls containing what we thought was the sum of our capacity to love.
3) Dogs are intensely present. They don’t rent out their years to the past, nor future. They are right here, right now. As Eckhart Tolle* tells us, it’s only by inhabiting this very moment-through which we can transcend our egos- that we can find true joy. Dogs aren’t crippled by an ego because “animals can only be aware; thoughts are not part of their consciousness.*” (Dr. Sheedy). What I love about dogs’ present preoccupation is that they tend to pull us into being fully aware too, especially when we’re engaged in a roll-a-thon with them or a growly tug-of-war. These are the moments that are minds stop whirring with the daily to-do’s and we are-for those few fleeting moments- really inhabiting the only time that matters; the Now.
4) Dogs need plenty of exercise, especially big breeds such as my Libby. If it weren’t for daily walks, many of us would remain pale-faced and exercise-deprived indoors. Some days, perhaps, the thought of walking your doggie seems like an inconvenient chore rather than a source of pleasure. But we do tend to feel more vibrant afterwards. Personally I always feel so much brighter and energetic post-walkies, and grateful to Liberty for pulling me away from my post-it note-stuck- desk and into the serenity of nature. Don’t fancy exercising today? Hard to evase when you have a 70lbs dog making mischief in your house till you do:-) You don’t need me to tell me what this furry four-legged physical trainer can do for your health and wellness.
5) Through our young children we tend to meet lots of people. Ditto with dog parenting. Even if you’re in a ‘I’d- like- Harry- Potter’s- invisibility- cloak-mood your dog probably isn’t. A passing stranger to your dog can shrill the excitement bells, as Fido tugs and tears towards them. Rarely a walk goes by when Libby and I don’t meet a neighbor. Thanks to Libby I’ve met a fair few lovely locals and that’s all-important for us town-newbies.
We don’t even need to consider ourselves sociable, our dogs are quite happy to make those introductions for us. Think 101 Dalmatians; a marriage was even the result of a chance dog-driven meeting.
Too true is this: ‘Every dog deserves a home. Not every home deserves a dog.’ Some of us are not in a position to welcome a dog into the home fold. Recognizing this shows wise discernment.
Yet dog parent or no, today at ‘Bright Side’ is a salutation to our furry-friends, an opportunity to soak our minds and hearts in gratitude for them and all that they do for us.
Cheers to you, Canines, our most celebrated and cherished example of Earthly Angels.
* Quote taken from Dr Sheedy http://www.drsheedy.com/our-2-minds/human-separation-from-nature.php
*Eckhart Tolle is a contemporary spiritual teacher who travels extensively sharing the messages of his best selling books, ‘The Power of Now’ and the latter ‘A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose,’ which featured for 10 weeks on a special Skype series, chapter by chapter, with Oprah Winfrey. Eckhart is a personal Great, his books having such a profound effect on me that I bought and sent his book copies out to loved-ones; the hallmark of a breathtaking book, I say:-)