If you are new to my blog or haven’t read previous entries, I have a lovely dog. His name is Winston. You can read about our story here: https://imageoftheheart.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/just-like-a-little-dog-would/.
I spend a majority of my day with Winston and he teaches me so much. Winston teaches me about life, love, happiness, and so many other things. I never thought about how much I learned from him till one day I was getting ready to take him on a “road trip”(our name for car ride). He was beyond excited. Winston was jumping around and wagging his tail; being unbelievably adorable. It was then I realized that he lives in the moment, unlike a bunch of us who string moments together like beads on a necklace. It was then I knew I could learn a lot from him and decided to open my heart and learn. Here are some lessons I am learning from Winston and that we can all learn from the dogs in our lives….
1) Live in the moment
Winston has such zeal for living that he is always himself. His eyes are full with wonder, excitement, and happiness. He never sits on the sidelines or stays a wallflower. Winston runs the field, and becomes his own coach. When I say “road trip” he turns into a wild man. While in the car his head is out the window and he cannot contain his excitement. When we reach our destination he cannot wait to jump out the car to the adventure that awaits. When the little three year old next door is playing fetch with him Winston will not stop. He won’t stop till the little one tuckers out. Each throw of the tennis ball is a new moment. Another chance to catch the ball or do a nose plant. If he catches it great, he is happy. If he nose dives, he is happy. If he misses, he is happy. Nothing gets him down because he is playing fetch. At doggie day care (yes, I take my dog to day care when I work just like a working mom does her little kid), he plays all day long. His dog best friends and him just run, play, and enjoy each other. They don’t think about what others think of them, how they look, or cloud their mind with judgement on new dogs, they just play. Nothing takes him out of living.
2) Food is good
This goes without saying, Winston LOVES food. When I am cooking dinner he is at my feet waiting for food to fall on the floor. At dinner he wants what we are eating. If my hubby is eating breakfast on the couch you can bet your bottom dollar Winston wants to eat that same breakfast on the same couch while watching the morning news. When it comes to his own food, step out of the way. Especially if he has been a good boy and I put peanut butter on it (his “special treatsy”). Winston gobbles up his food and each morsel is as good as the one before it. When he is finished he wants more because he appreciated it. This is really powerful perspective for me because of my eating disorder. I don’t always appreciate food, I try to avoid it sometimes, I count each morsel instead of enjoying it. I need to approach my breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks like Winston. Savor each morsel. Eat mindfully and eat what I want and need.
3) Set boundaries
Boundaries are hard for me. Being a people pleaser it is hard to say “NO”. One thing I have worked really hard in recovery is setting boundaries. Learning that no is fine to say. I have been working on different kinds of boundaries and how to set them in place (for deeper reading into boundary setting please check out Boundaries by Thompson). While this is not natural for me, it is natural for Winston. While those of us with boundary issues can’t say no, Winston can. If he doesn’t want to be touched in a certain area he lets you know. When he comes across an individual he doesn’t like he wants nothing to do with them. He lets them know “Hey, don’t mess with me” and goes on. Even with other dogs, he puts them in their place if he does not appreciate them invading his space. And they respond. Those dogs or people leave him alone. They don’t think bad of Winston, and Winston surely does not second guess himself or self sabotage. So why should we? Let our no be no and our yes be yes (even the Bible gives description of boundary setting). People will ultimately respect us more if put up secure boundaries.
4) If something doesn’t work out, just let it be
As humans we get so upset if a project, a deadline, or to do list doesn’t get completed. If you are like me and suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, the littlest thing can set you off and you are out of control. It gets you down and you cannot focus. Maybe you get wrapped up in what you were doing it becomes part of you and when it fails your self worth suffers. Dogs don’t get tied up in any of that. I don’t even think Winston has any objectives or goals in life except to love and play fetch; and his world doesn’t end if we can’t play fetch everyday. He may not get all his energy out, or be a little more cantankerous like any toddler, but he still has us to cuddle with and feed him and that is alright with him.
5) Love the one you’re with
Winston is a lovebug. There are not many people he isn’t fond of. Once Winston knows you he wants to play and cuddle. He doesn’t see any wrong with anyone. He just loves. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what you do, where you come from, as long as you pet him or play with him he is all yours. Just like living in the moment, he has such zeal for loving you. When he is cuddling on the couch while my hubs and myself are watching our shows he is in our laps licking our hands or forearms. He is nuzzling in our sides or stretching out to get his belly rubbed. We are his whole life. Do we love others in life like that? Are we showing them how much they mean to us? We may not lick them or give them belly rubs, but do we reach out when they are in need? Are our words encouraging and uplifting? Do we make them feel like a part of our life like dogs do for their parents or do we just treat them like bystanders?
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil, jealousy, or discontent.” Milan Kundera