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The 5 important life lessons I learned from my dog

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You can learn a lot from being a pet owner and the lessons begin from the first day your furry family member steps into your life and continue after you say your final farewell.

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									The 5 important life lessons I learned from my dog

Our son has been on a long, arduous campaign for our family to adopt a
dog. I have to admit we are weakening.

I have always loved dogs and I can well remember my own beloved childhood
friends as well as that desperate desire for my very own canine
companion. Plus he is an active child who loves the outdoors and he is an
only child with no children his age living nearby so a dog could be a
wonderful playmate and friend.

But I also feel in my heart it is simply too soon for me to open my heart
to another dog. It has only been a year since I lost my beloved labrador
Shamus and I still miss her terribly. Friends have told me to get another
dog, but I find that rather hard-hearted. If my husband died people
wouldn't send me right out to pick a new one and if my son died people
wouldn't simply suggest I get pregnant again. Yes I will eventually adopt
another dog to join our family, just as many people do remarry or have
other children, but I am not done grieving for the loss of Shamus. You
see she was a special dog and she was a very large part of my life.

Shamus joined our family during the first year of our marriage, more than
a decade before our son made an appearance, and moved from New York to
Kentucky with us.

She was the sweetest, most loving dog imaginable but then she was a lab
and we know that is part of their nature. When she was younger my husband
would take her hunting and she loved to hunt so much despite being lazy.
However, I always swore that made her a better retriever because she
didn't want to waste a step! She was such an agreeable dog that my
husband said she was the best dog he'd ever had; she was so eager-to-
please (another lab trait) that she was a joy to train.

During the last years of her life she steadily grew weaker and struggled
with many health issues but she was still so loving and uncomplaining.
It was very difficult for us as we watched her decline and I dreaded
being forced to make a decision, but in the end she made that decision on
her own. Despite the many months of knowing her death was coming it was
still so very hard to say good-bye. It was even more difficult to know
that the world contains one less gentle heart and one less being that
loves me.

But the lessons she taught me live on:

The 5 important life lessons I learned from my dog…

You can learn a lot from being a pet owner and the lessons begin from the
first day your furry family member steps into your life and continue
after you say your final farewell. In many ways, my dog was a far better
person than I can ever hope to become.

1. Stay in touch with your loved ones
And I mean really in touch! Every pet owner knows what I mean. We humans
don't touch each other enough. Sure, we cuddle our babies, and fondle our
new lovers, but in every relationship there comes a point when kisses are
perfunctory farewells and hugs are doled out sparingly.

Dogs know that a simple touch from someone you love can make any
situation better and sometimes make all the difference in the world. They
appreciate the wonder and magic of a kiss (or lick) just because they
love you and know that sometimes just sitting close enough to touch
frequently keeps the cold, dark nights at bay.

2. Never overlook the chance for a nap

While most of us can't work into our schedules the 20-hours of sleep time
that dogs enjoy, we could all benefit from taking advantage of some down
time to relax and rejuvenate. There are few of us who are getting enough
rest and many are subsisting on far less sleep than is really adequate.
This is no way to live let alone thrive. Your dog knows how to relax,
just roll on your back and let your tongue loll out. You'd be surprised
how wonderful it feels!

Dogs know that sleep should be high on your priority list-surely higher
than laundry and cleaning although not higher than any food-related
activity. Give yourself some down time and you'll feel the better for it.

3. Jealousy is a waste of time

It would have been understandable if our dog took an instant dislike to
our newborn. After all, for 11 years she had been the "baby" of the
family. Even more than that, during the nine months of my pregnancy I'd
been very sick and she'd been my constant companion on couch and bed. Now
suddenly that was over and there was precious little time for grooming,
walks, or cuddling. All our attention was focused on someone else.
Jealous? Not our Shamus. She instantly bonded with the little screamer
even though we didn't let her get too close while we sussed the situation
out.

She was better than any baby monitor available as she would come find us
at the first sign of stirring and distress. She was the best nursemaid as
she carefully investigated any visitors approaching the baby and always
slept by his bed to guard against intruders and be vigilante for his
every need. Then as the baby grew and became more mobile she was the
epitome of patience with all his hair-gripping, lip-tugging, ear-pulling
explorations.

She was his his guardian angel, playmate, and furry walker and she loved
every minute of it.

4. The best toys are found not bought

Expensive squeaky toy? Shredded in minutes. Knobby ball? Lost in the
bushes. Rubber bone? Shoved under couch. Frisbee found by the side of the
road? Played with every day and stowed carefully on bed when not in use.
A person's hand? Endless play opportunities.
Dogs and young children teach us an important lesson about gifts. Your
time and attention are the greatest gift of all and with a little
imagination and energy you don't need any toys at all, let alone
expensive, electronic gadgets.

5. You are never too old to play

Arthritis and muscular atrophy sometimes make it a challenge for Shamus
to get around, but she still loves to wrestle and will even romp for a
little while. Although she can't be as active and play fetch for hours as
she once did, she still wants to be in the center of the action and
participate as much as she can.

We humans forget that the need for play and fellowship does not disappear
when we leave childhood. There is no such thing as being too old to
play. Perhaps we need to revise our choice of game and venue, but no
matter what our age, there should be no limit to our ability to join in
the fun!

What lessons has your dog taught you? What role does your dog play in
your home?

								
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