Dogs teach us at least as much we teach them.
Considering our learning capacity and intelligence, I’ll suggest we have the ability to learn more from them than in reverse. Dogs are masters in:
Friendship — from across the street, a dog can wag it’s tail, shake it’s butt, stick out its tongue, and race across towards you. Instead of wanting to run the other direction, you’re more likely to open your arms and hug the dog… who will inevitably jump on you, attempt to lick your face, and then you’ll pat it on the back and say “good doggy!”; with a huge smile on your face, dog hair all over your clothes, and the sudden feeling you need to wash your hands, or maybe shower. Yet, it’s a great experience, every time.
Loyalty — a dog will sacrifice its life for yours without hesitation, if it only knows to respond. S/he will sleep next to you when sick, stay by your side, and fast for as long as it takes to help you recover. A doggy will be your best friend, because that’s all it knows how to do.
Happiness/Joy — dogs have ‘happiness meters’, in that their tails wag and let you know exactly how they are feeling at any given moment; or they tuck away and show you how sad or afraid they are feeling. As a result, we tend to reinforce doing anything that makes them happy, and avoid anything that makes them sad or afraid. Imagine if we showed a similar level of transparency to those we love. Perhaps they would also focus on reinforcing happiness, sharing meal time, exercise, time in nature, and play.
Forgiveness — once a dog chooses to love and trust you, it’s almost impossible to burn this bridge. A dog will allow you to make mistakes, will instantly forgive you — for a hug, kiss, treat, or pat on the back — and will even forget; the most powerful form of forgiveness.
Gratitude — it doesn’t take much to have a doggy come say thank you. A doggy will come to you after a meal, touch you with its nose, and let you know how much it appreciates you and the meal you just shared with it. A doggy will snuggle with you for a 5 minute walk per day, bark if anyone approaches your home, and stand up for you in every instance. It doesn’t take much. Just an ounce of love, and a doggy will be grateful, for so long.
Celebration — we used to call them ‘rocket runs’ for our doggy Keeley who just passed away. After every poop, she would immediately sprint across an entire field. In fact, we used to joke that a deer didn’t stand a chance, even if it started on the other side of the field! And, this proved close to true on many instances when she would chase them. I know it sounds silly, but imagine if you did a celebratory run every time you took a poop… you’d probably be in a really good mood!
Patience — a doggy can be left at home for hours on end, laying in one position, waiting and not eating or drinking, and yet awake most of the time. They will happily wait for you to come back, won’t resent you being away a bit, and greet you with complete enthusiasm on your entrance. A doggy will wait for you, as long as it takes, and love you more every day.
So, today, as I pay tribute to my doggy Keeley, I am reminded of all the wonderful things we can learn from dogs. Keeley taught me telepathic communication; or thinking something and feeling it at the same time. We understood each other with this method, and I’ve used it to help build connection with all types of animals since (including humans).
Dogs are connected. They are happy. They are loving. They are wonderful examples of how to be. And, they are manifestations of us. Watch your dog’s behavior, mannerisms, health, and happiness level and it will tell you a lot about your own.
If you have a dog, you already know this. If you don’t, and that’s not your thing, no worries. But, perhaps it’s still worth taking a look and seeing why doggies are so darn good at interacting with people, and what you might be able to learn from them.
PS — Keeley donkey: you will be missed. As with the passing of anyone I love, I now find you through love, enjoy and share happy memories with you, and use your spirit to guide me. You are connected in a way I’m not; I love you and ask for your love, so I can spread it as far and wide as possible. You taught me so much, Keeley. I am very grateful for all 16 years with you. Thank you.
Originally published at drkareem.com on March 1, 2017.