Five Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dog

The common phrase dogs are man’s best friend is probably an understatement. To me, they’re also man’s best teacher. In some circumstances, they’re even man’s life saver. Imagine a world without dogs, how sad and lonely would that be?

Of course, our furry kids don’t come for free. They have needs too. In fact, they need us more than we need them. But ironically, they understand us more than we understand them. Dogs aren’t cheap. Arguably, there’s a high cost associated with having a dog. For example, dog food, dog treats, dog medicine, dog grooming and dog health care etc. They’re all much dearer than human’s. Surprised? Money aside, dogs are also famous/infamous for being high maintenance animals. They require someone to do the clean-up, play with them and give them enough attention. It’s a lifelong commitment and a huge responsibility to bear. But in spite of all these, many dog owners never regret having a dog. Why? Because the trust and unconditional love we receive from them is unmatched by any other kinds of creatures including humans.

I’ve had my dog Jamie since he was only a 3 month old puppy. Time flies! He’s now a 12 year old senior dog. I admit sometimes I get tired of looking after him. I’m juggling and struggling with a work-life balance at the same time. I wish I had more time for myself: To rest, to read, to write, to do all those creative projects, to go out night-clubbing and to  have a vibrant social life. But every time I spend time with my dog, by that I mean going out and about on the beach or around the bush as opposed to doing a retail therapy or having a nightlife, he has this magic power to make me see what I don’t always see – wants aren’t necessarily needs. My need to seek external validation is one of misconceptions I have about what makes me happy. He’s helped me step back and stay away from that. This fellow has changed my life completely and unreservedly… for better. He’s taught me to appreciate the moment, to live in the present I’m in. Most of all, he’s shown me love is a verb, not a noun. In that, these are 5 life lessons I’ve learned from him.

1. Chase toys, not troubles: Do we forget that sometimes life is a bit fun and games? Fair enough, we don’t always win but we don’t have to lose our sense of humour as a result. Have we taken life too seriously? If we can’t see the bright side, can we at least try to see the light side? Yes, life is hard, but instead of echoing the sentiment, can we approach it and do the opposite – laugh at it? My dog doesn’t temp fate, he deals with practicality, what’s in front of him. When life throws him a lemon, he chases it, plays with it and perhaps even chews it. If he doesn’t like it, he spits it out. He’s inspired me to be a comedian, not a complete drama queen in the life stages. You either laugh or cry, which role would you choose to play?

2. There’s a such thing as a free meal if you are good to your parent(s): My dog totally relies on me. I’m fine with it. He knows who’s boss in this household. All he has to do is be a good son. He’s enough. He doesn’t need to kiss my ass or try to be a different breed to get all freebies in the house. He’s a constant reminder that there’s always a breadwinner/boss above us, whether it’s in life or in career. No matter what position we’re in, none of us got to where we are alone. Be thankful and respectful to people who helped us along the way.

3. Forgive (and forget sometimes): This is by far the biggest lesson. Somehow I think all major wars and conflicts still happening in the world today is because we human beings haven’t learnt one thing – forgiveness. Dogs forgive. Period. They even forget sometimes. It’s not because they have a shorter memory, it’s because they know life goes on and it’s shown in their capability to move on. To me, that’s the true spirit of forgiveness. Are you (still) waiting for someone to show some remorse so that you’ll consider forgiving him? What if he never does, are you going to sit there and wait forever? Who’s really being punished here? As a matter of fact, we define what forgiveness is, not the offender or the enemy.

4. Love without an asterisk. If we want to know what love is, just go and watch how a dog shows affection to his/her owner. If we treat love like an investment, expect a bigger return later, most of us will go bankrupt very quickly. Some say Love is blind. I think only we’re too blind to see what love is. Can we love someone without terms and conditions? The fine print? Love is love, full stop.

5. Certain things aren’t for human consumption…: What the heck is this? Well, I deliberately won’t elaborate it. Use some imagination! Bring out your creativity! Give me your short and sweet answer.

So, where do we go from here? or should I say what has Jamie done today? He’s slept in his bed, daydreamed a bit, checked me out a few times, eaten dinner, gone to toilet. It’s a good life, isn’t it? Now he’s lying on the floor behind my chair as I write this. If I could just add another point to make the 6th life lesson I’ve learnt from him, it’d be Let sleeping dogs lie…

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