Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Any dog moms (or dads) out there? I proudly admit I am a crazy dog mom. I recently celebrated my dog, Belle’s, second adoptiversary and birthday (she was only 10 weeks old when we adopted her). While I loved her from the moment I chose her at the shelter, I didn’t know I could love her as much as I do. She has taught me so much in the two years she has been in my life, and I wanted to share just a few of those lessons.

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Pallat.

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Early on in Belle’s life, specifically potty training, I was so frustrated that I acted…well, not nicely. I was frustrated with not knowing what to do, with feeling like I didn’t have the skills to raise this little fluffball, with feeling like I had nowhere to turn to for help in the process. I spent months beating myself up for acting the way I did, for being frustrated and angry with her. The thing is though, while I may remember those days vividly and feel guilty for them, she doesn’t remember them at all. Best of all, even in those moments as a puppy, she forgave me instantly. There are times I’m frustrated with other things and it comes out at her (because we all tend to make the ones closest to us pay, don’t we?), but the minute I extend my hand and lean down, she’s right there, forgiving me, and reminding me it’s okay.

Sometimes, others hurt us unintentionally. Maybe it’s out of their own frustration, maybe it’s out of fear. Whatever the cause, when that hurt is unintentional, we need to recognize it and forgive. Admit when you’re wrong too. Accept it and move on. Holding grudges not only hurts the relationship, but it stops you from having peace.

2. Be patient.

This one also goes back to those potty training days. Patience was the biggest factor, and something I didn’t have much of. Just like training a puppy takes consistency and patience, so does life. While I’m not perfect now, I’d like to think I’ve improved, and the training I have done with Belle has been the biggest thing that has impacted my patience level. For most of us, patience is a muscle we have to build and train over time, and we will probably never be perfect. But patience isn’t about perfection; it’s about showing you care enough about the outcome, the person, the relationship, to wait for them to “catch up” or for the situation to piece itself together.

To me, patience isn’t about sitting around and waiting for things to happen though. It just means not trying to make life happen any faster.

Belle at Gettysburg. Photo courtesy of Alexandria Pallat.

3. Take time to smell the roses.

For Belle, this is literal. A simple neighborhood walk would take hours if I let her take as long as she wanted to smell everything she wanted. This has taught me though, not to try to rush those walks all the time. It has taught me to find the beauty in the little things, the seemingly insignificant.

Take a walk. Enjoy the breeze, the sun, the way the clouds form. Pause and think about how great it is you are alive to enjoy that moment.

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Pallat.

4. Get out of your comfort zone.

At least every once in a while. Belle loves exploring. I, on the other hand, have always stayed with places that are familiar. Thanks to Belle, though, I have become more inclined to find new places to adventure to. I’ve even decided we are going to take a solo (or rather, mom-dog) road trip, which is something I had never thought of doing before. I’ve become active in the dog community in my area. We even belong to a DC-area dog non-profit, We the Dogs DC. We have gone to events where I have met new people and become more active in the animal-related causes I believe in. Thanks to Belle, I have had opportunities to meet people and do things by myself, something I didn’t think I would ever have the courage for.

So, take a leap. Don’t let your life get stagnant. Take your pup to a new place. You’ll probably enjoy it too. At the very least because of the company.

Bipawtisan March, March 2017. Photo courtesy of Alexandria Pallat.

I feel like I should have anticipated learning a lot from adding a dog to the family. The truth is though, while I knew the responsibilities of owning a dog, I didn’t realize a dog could teach me so much. And if she has taught me this much in just two years, I can’t imagine what else I will learn as we navigate life together.

What has your dog taught you?