Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lessons I Am Learning From My Dog

About two months ago, we found Sydney at a shelter.  Having a dog is a completely new thing for me. I grew up with cats and for a long time thought I'd never be a dog person.

But Sydney has been teaching me a few new lessons, or, in some cases, helping to remind me of lessons I learned when my children were very young.

Life is Messy

When my girls were babies, I lived in the land of messiness. Spit-up stains on the back of my t-shirt, caustic diapers that at one time in my life would have left me gagging, wiping up vomit and then kissing that poor, sick, chubby little face -- this was the stuff of the baby days. During toddlerdom, peanut butter replaced spit-up as a wardrobe accent, and I commiserated with other mothers who also rued the stains on carpet from potty training moments and red juice.

Now that my youngest child is almost eight years old, life has gotten much less messy. Only it hasn't, really. I was just fooling myself into thinking so.

Life is still messy. There are countless ways that life can be sticky. I don't ever want to forget that, or to begin thinking that a neatly constructed life is both possible and a goal. Sydney is sloppy and imperfect and infinitely lovable. Like this life.

It's Good to Walk Every Day

Exercise has to happen. Dogs don't care about email or blogs first thing in the morning. They care about getting outside. There's always a great scent to inhale at the park, and somehow that tired old park seems new and exciting each day as we nose into corners heretofore unexplored. 

It's Good to Stop and Listen

No walk is so important that we don't have time to stop. And listen. Watch what's passing in front of us. It's good to pay attention to birds and rabbits and potential new friends behind fences. It's essential to stop meandering and just be for a few minutes. Okay. Now we can get moving again.

It's Good to Have a Balanced Life 

Exercise. Have regular meals. Sleep. Get scratched behind the ears. Express unbounded joy at the sight of loved ones, always remembering they're the most important thing in your world -- Be ready to give your life for them, and then have another nap. Appreciate treats with every quivering inch of your body.

The only area in which Sydney doesn't get it has to do with books. She just doesn't see the point, so, yeah, there's that. She's not perfect.

But she's exceedingly pleasant to have around, and she's such a good teacher.


Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

This spoke to my heart! Thank you!
We too have been learning all the beautiful things that a dog can teach us. I can't tell you how thrilled we were when our little Crouton finally got over her fear of the leash and let us start taking her on walks! Sheer joy and jubilation from my kiddos!

Faith said...

Did you ever see this video Karen?

I loved it! Your post reminded me of it.

Karen E. said...

Charlotte, the girls and I think Crouton is such a cute name. :) Poor thing -- scared of her leash? I'm so glad she's over it!

Faith, I hadn't seen that -- how very sweet.

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

The shelter owner had named her that and we decided to keep it. She was so very tiny when we brought her home. A friend of mine commented that "she wasn't a whole loaf of bread, just a little crouton".

Karen E. said...

I saw the picture of her when she first came home. Unbelievably cute. And tiny!

Sydney is a bigger dog than I thought I wanted, but not unmanageable, so it's worked out.

We kept Sydney's shelter name, too. She was at a no-kill shelter for two years, so her name was pretty well established and we didn't have the heart to change hers either. And it suits her. :)

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

No, your Sydney doesn't seem an unmanageable size at all. The greyhound we had for a week was HUGE. They are slender animals, but long and tall! My brother has a Rhodesian Ridgeback which are also very large breed dogs and I have always been a little nervous around it. I think small to medium suits us best!

What I have been most amazed at is the way that my boys who used to be very nervous around dogs have really conquered their fear and come to love Crouton just as much as the girls so.

Karen E. said...

It's great that your boys love her, too! It's such a neat thing to see children conquer a fear of animals and then grow attached to them. A friend's daughter used to be petrified of our cat, and now she loves both the cat and Sydney, and loves to visit them, and it's so very sweet to see.

Sydney is probably just the right size for us, though her only drawback is that, at 46 pounds, she thinks she's a lap dog, but, ummm, she's not. :)

D. Og said...

I was quite dismayed when I saw a movie recently (Toy Story 3), looking at the trailers for the other movies out there. Misandry EVERYWHERE. I remember being particularly turned off by an upcoming "kid movie" called Tangled. The anti-man attitude training starts very young. I now view Disney films as part of the enemy's camp.