“Everything I know I learned from dogs.” – Nora Roberts
All too often we play humble when we are doing something great. I may not always feel it, but amazing things are happening in my home. It may even be small things, but they add up over time. I need to remember this and accept that when someone tells me I’m doing a good job, I actually am. It’s okay to be proud of myself once in awhile. My dog has no problem in accepting her praise for a job well done. It is priceless when she’s feeling good about herself with a goofy smile on her face.
ADAPT TO MY ENVIRONMENT
My dog has shown that she’s adaptable to her changing reality: from street dog to house pet, living with another dog and people, to having babies in the house. That’s a lot of change in only four years, but she knows how to make it work. Sometimes I struggle with change. It’s no understatement to say that life changes drastically when children arrive. It takes time to embrace and thrive in different circumstances, but I’m learning how to adapt and make the most of each new situation.
TAKE A NAP/REST
“What do dogs do on their day off? Can’t lie around – that’s their job.” – George Carlin
My dog can fall asleep whenever, wherever. I may not have the luxury of napping 12-15 hours a day like my dog, but as a parent I need to remember how important more rest is to my overall well-being and to maintaining balance in my life. Some days I am so tired, by nap time I can hardly keep my eyes open and have to rest when the babies do. This is hard because I always feel like there is work to be done, and it would be somehow tragic if it wasn’t accomplished.
Other times Ellie-Mae (my dog) is the opposite as far as her activity levels are concerned, and doesn’t know when to slow down. In the past she has been so excited to come back inside, she has run through the screen door or into the closest wall. As a mother, I need to learn to slow down. If I don’t, I will run into “a wall” of my own, and the results will be harmful in the long run.
“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton
A dog’s love is sincere. They want to love others and be loved in return. I can be away from my dog for some time, be in a bad mood all day, or display many other flaws. She loves me and treats me the same in spite of my shortcomings, just as if it doesn’t matter. She is forgiving, faithful, and a true friend regardless of anything. I want to love that way; especially when I am tired and worn-out. It’s hard to love at all times, but the health of our relationships depends on it.
My dog Ellie sure knows how to take what is given to her. Whatever the object, it’s a gift and she treasures it. She’s always willing to take whatever scraps are thrown her way and wait patiently for more. As a parent of twins, I have learned the importance of previously used and loved treasures (including clothes) and presents from others. One of the biggest gifts is other people’s time, energy, and help. Accepting other people’s assistance and hand-me-downs have provided my family with an abundance of resources and support. I’ve learned to receive this kindness and generosity with arms wide open when it is needed. If it’s not needed, there’s usually someone else I know who could use the help. As parents, it’s important to pay-it-forward. It can really make a difference for others in their time of need.
RECEIVE FROM OTHERS
As mothers, we tend to give beyond our means. My dog has shown me that life is more fulfilling when you let others give back and love too. She always enjoys being spoiled anytime she gets the chance. Maybe getting an extra treat, a nice back rub, extra snuggles, or letting someone else take you to your favourite retreat is necessary. I for one, often deny myself and put others before me but I need to (every once in awhile) learn to take some “me” time.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Dogs are often happier than men simply because the simplest things are the greatest things for them! —Mehmet Murat Ildan
The great thing about dogs is their simplicity. Food, shelter, their person, and they’re set. Toys, walks, snuggles and naps are not what she lives for. Enjoying the small things and focusing on the basics is what she’s good at. Sometimes, keeping it simple is hard for us humans. As a parent, I’ve learned the importance of focusing mostly on what’s important; a seriously hard thing to do, but keeping it simple has significantly reduced my stress. Planning the occasional extra can be a good thing, but I can’t let myself stress about being perfect or going beyond my means. I need to only do what I can, when I can. I know, it’s easier said than done!!
FIND TIME TO PLAY
You never know when Ellie-Mae will want to play. Suddenly, she will throw a ball in the air or play with one of her stuffed toys. She’s a girl who knows when to relax and when to do something fun. My first year as a parent had very little play. I found myself too tired and overwhelmed to play or with little time to try. It didn’t seem like we would ever get there but as my children get older, I’m getting to do more things I really enjoy, including writing this blog. Sleep is getting better, and I’m able to enjoy some downtime. Let’s face it, at the end of the day cleaning can wait. Sometimes I’m just too worn-out to do any more work.
LIVE IN THE PRESENT
Over the years, I have had a few rescue dogs. While most came from hard times – abuse, issues, and a variety of fears – they have always embraced their new lives and loved us fully. Based on their example I can learn to be in the present, letting go of my past mistakes or “what ifs.” As a parent, I have moments that need to be left in the past. I need to live, learn, and move on.
Dogs also seem to know how to make sure the present counts. They focus on and enjoy what’s in front of them, like you walking through the door; even if you’ve only been gone for 10 minutes.
Do you have a pet that has taught you something? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!