Monday, September 29, 2014

Live Like a Dog

I wrote an article for a magazine a few years back in the voice of my dog, Nikita, an 11-year-old Husky/Shepherd mix. It was called "Love Lessons from the Dog," or something adorable like that. Thinking back on it, it was one of the better pieces I'd written for that particular magazine because I abandoned my preconceived notions of what an article should look like and just wrote what felt right in the moment.

That's basically what dogs do, you know. They do what feels right in the moment. Sure, sometimes it's disgusting or bad, like when the little dog, Doobie, ate an entire bag full of chocolate candy and threw up in fourteen spots on the carpet, futon, chair, bed, rug... but more often it's a zest for life that human beings usually tell themselves they cannot afford.

The best part of my dogs' day is when someone comes home. It doesn't matter who it is. They are exponentially more excited every time someone new shows up. The possibilities that lie beyond the closed door are endless but, to the dogs, all of the possibilities are good. Whether it's Mommy, Daddy, one of our kids (the 'puppies'), or a new friend (i.e. absolutely anyone that comes over, whether they've been here before or not), the dogs want to be with that person. They get close, they sniff, they snuggle, they lay next to, they lick, and they finally burrow and/or fall asleep on/next to said person.

Also ridiculously exciting? Taking a walk. Say the word, even in the midst of a sentence having nothing to do with them, and they cock their heads to the side and begin to prance. Pull out a leash, and they literally quiver with excitement, and then bound around the house with such anticipation that you can barely get them to stand still long enough to slip the leash around their necks. The walk itself is nonstop action: zig-zagging, sniffing, peeing, more sniffing, chomping on something that probably shouldn't be chomped on, giving the least amount of slack in the leash possible at all times, pulling so hard they nearly choke themselves. It's that kind of happy.

Rides. Opening the car door and watching their eyes dart with excitement as they dash from the kitchen into the closed garage directly into the car and immediately stick their noses up to the top of the rolled up window, waiting for the magical car fairies to roll it down, is pure glee. It truly does not matter to them where they are going. Often, it's a 1.5-mile trip to pick up Mommy at work, and then right back around. Sometimes it's even to the vet. Sometimes it's across the street to the high school to pick up one of the 'puppies'. Overwhelming joy, I tell you.

Can you imagine if we were to be happy all the time? Not fretting tomorrow, not stewing over the past, but just breathing in the daily joys of life like they were the first time, every time? If taking a walk, traveling in the car, seeing a loved one after a few hours, or meeting a new friend held that kind of boundless enthusiasm for us?

Live like a dog, my friends. We all know an entire bag of chocolate is no good for anyone, even if it DOES feel great in the moment. But we can have the finer qualities in common with our pets.

Forgive quickly, love wholeheartedly, and be ready for adventure at any given moment.

Stephanie Jean