What I've Learned From Our Dogs...
If you know anything about me, then you know how much I love Golden Retrievers...our dogs, Lily and Daisy, in particular. I'm pretty sure if you could turn Daisy into a person she would be Buddy the Elf ("Smiling's my favorite!") and Lily would be Charlie Brown ("Good grief!"). To me, despite their individual quirks, they are the ultimate symbol of happiness and affection. Can you seriously look at a big, shaggy Golden without letting out a big, "Awwww!"? Well, I can't. Before Callie was born, John and I would daydream about what our dogs would be like around a new baby. We hoped that the adjustment would go well and we did all of the things we could think of to help prepare for this new phase in all of our lives. We read the books. We played YouTube videos of babies' cries so that the dogs would get used to it. We set up the stroller and tried to teach the dogs not to be terrified of it (not successful!). And most importantly, we had placed a spare blanket in Callie's diaper bag so that we could wrap her in it and then take it home to the dogs so that they would know her scent before meeting her.
But, sadly, Callie left us and we never got to try this theory out. Our good friend (and fellow dog lover!), Nancy, picked up Lily and Daisy and brought them to her house when she found out what had happened with Callie. She has a big fenced-in backyard that puts our ski-sloped yard to shame...a dog's paradise. When we came home from the hospital, I was sad to not have the dogs greeting us at the door like always, but so incredibly thankful to our dear friend for watching them. Anyone who has seen Daisy's forceful wag knows that I couldn't have been around her right after surgery.
After a few days, we just couldn't take it anymore. Despite the fact that our house was full of people, it just felt lonely without them. I won't lie, when they came bounding back into the house I questioned whether it was a good idea or not...but ultimately, it was the best decision we could have ever made. You see, these furry four-legged creatures are our babies. Without a baby of our own right now, Lily and Daisy allow us to fulfill that nurturing side of us that longs to be used. And they provide us with unequaled company, joy, and laughter. They let me cry in their fur, but they eventually do something that makes me laugh and helps me to not stay sad for too long.
Thinking about our dogs gets me thinking about how much they have taught me about life.
- Always be loyal and true.
- Live joyfully and approach new situations and people with excitement and energy.
- Car rides with the windows down are the very best thing in the world...unless you get carsick, like Daisy. In that case, thank God every time you get to your destination safely.
- Long walks are one of life's greatest pleasures.
- Never lose your playful spirit.
- Bark at untrustworthy people.
- Apologize when you do something wrong. (Thanks to Elizabeth for this video!)
- Stop and smell the roses...and the grass...and that interesting pile of...oh, no skip that!
- Enjoy a long nap every once in a while.
- Be goofy! It's cool!
- Friendship is all about having fun but also about being a source of comfort when it's needed most.
- Get out of bed and live each day with gusto!
- Wag more, bark less. ~Stolen from my favorite bumper sticker!~
- Never lose your optimism...after all, the next time you leave your house could be your next car ride and a crinkle of plastic could mean a treat!
- Give affection freely and love without holding back.
Dogs teach us how to live and love. In our case, our dogs are healing us, one day at a time. If you have another "dog-ism", leave it in the comment section below. I'd love to see how your dog teaches you to view life a little differently. They are the most amazing creatures on this earth. I will leave you today with a quote from my favorite book, Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan:
"A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty."