Life Lessons Learned From My Dog

3. We’re More Similar Than We Know It

A dog owner’s life is always full of surprises…

1. A Little Mess Is Okay

In fact, it’s welcome. I came home last night after our walk in the woods and I looked around at the disheveled state of our couch, the pillows on the floor, his stray hairs all over the place — and realized, this is now our home. I feel good here, at peace; I’ve learned to live with the mess, embrace it, own it.

It used to drive me crazy when I’d wake up in the morning and see that everything was out of place. But I know now, it’s ok. Because our apartment wasn’t truly a home until we adopted Roco. He was the missing piece to our family puzzle.

2. Walking Is Better Than Yoga

Since we’ve welcomed Roco, a pre-teen Jack Russel Terrier, into our home, our lives have changed completely. Our schedules are now tied up to his bathroom needs. Which means we get to take more walks than we used to before. And it’s gooood.

Here’s a little bit about myself — I can be quite neurotic. My nerves tend to get the best of me. There have been social situations where I’ve had to cover my eyes just because I couldn’t stop myself from crying.

Oh yes, there was a time when not being able to find broccoli at the supermarket would totally burst my bubble.

I’ve tried yoga, meditation, herbal teas — and they’ve all left me just as anxious as I was before.

But walking with my dog has done something for my anxiety that no drug, herb, or fancy yoga mat could have ever done. I’ve rediscovered the joy of just being out, connecting with nature, noticing the little things that make life sweeter.

Stop and smell the flowers, as they say.

3. We’re More Similar Than We Know It

They say that money makes the world go round. And to some extent, it does. But what’s really the driving force behind all of our efforts? What makes us get up in the morning day after day after day?

It’s not a paycheck. It’s not that extravagant car or house you keep saving up for because you know there’s no other way you’ll afford it.

At the end of the day, we just want to be loved. We yearn for meaningful connections.

And it’s the same way for dogs. They just want to be a part of our lives, be as good as they can for us, and bring us joy. And they expect nothing in return but to be loved.

Is there a better feeling in the world?

4. Life Goes On

Roco wasn’t my first dog. I’ve lost and mourned two dogs before him. My grandfather gave me my first puppy, Rex, when I was about four.

Then, right before I turned 18, my father got Maya, an Alaskan malamute. Both suffered tragic deaths at the hands of my neighbors who poisoned them. After losing Maya, I felt like I could never love another dog again.

And it took me almost ten years to realize that’s not actually true. Because time moves us on. Outside of our fears and anticipation lies a whole world that goes on whether we want it to or not.

I think I just needed to realize that loving Roco didn’t mean I’d stopped loving Maya. Or Rex. There’s still plenty of room in my heart for both.

5. Living in the Moment Is the Only Way to Live

I can’t fall asleep at night without going over my to-do list. I wake up and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? My never-ending list of chores.

It’s a constant battle inside my head. I’m either worrying about tomorrow or reliving yesterday’s happy hour.

But when you spend the majority of your waking hours in the company of your canine friend, you notice a thing or two about how their mind works: dogs live in the present.

They know the past is gone and the future is uncertain, and yet, they make the best of every moment.

And that’s perhaps the most important thing my dog taught me.