There is most certainly a book’s worth of gems I have learned from dogs over the years. I’m very fortunate to spend every day in the company of a dog. As a dog walker, owner, and canine massage therapist, I have a lot of furry friends! As I write this, my dog, Benson, is curled up on the rug next to me, keeping a near- watchful eye as he gives into his heavy eyelids.
I look on dogs as the purest spirits. They are fully themselves at all moments of their existence and their interactions are always sincere and without pretense. Watching a creature thrive in their soul’s purpose of living fully realized, that is one serious and beautiful lesson. Because of my constant surrounding of dogs, I am able to witness the magnitude of living life in the ‘now’.
Over my years as a canine massage therapist, I am always in awe of that moment where a dog goes from focusing on their external environment, to turning an introspective eye. There’s a calm that comes over them as they search internally for what their body is experiencing and how it feels. So often, us humans, we live externally focused, completely unaware of what our deeper souls are experiencing or wanting to express.
Another lesson – it’s okay to not be friends with everyone. Some people just aren’t our cup of tea and that doesn’t make us, or them, bad people. If we spend our time trying to appease others, whom we don’t energetically connect with, we often waste our precious learning and growing time. That time could better be shared within our loving and supportive tribe; helping to stretch us into our purposeful life.
When the doorbell rings, pay attention. When people ask to enter your life, pay attention. Do they bring you gifts of joy? Or, are they there to distract you? Surround yourself with those that interest and engage you and perhaps go ring a doorbell, or two, of your own.
You very rarely need to bite. Many dogs offer licks to the hand as a way of letting me know that the area I’m massaging is sensitive or makes them nervous. As long as the dog is being respectfully observed, the lick really is all that needs to be ‘said,’ and I will make a change. It’s common for a dog to offer several licks during a session. However, some dogs, which have unprocessed trauma, may skip these gentle tells, and express their emotions in a more aggressive way. In the dog world, this is very rare; unfortunately, it’s not that rare in the human world.
They wear their fears on their sleeves without reassigning blame. So often, dogs that are labeled aggressive are actually just fearful. Fearful dogs tend to bark back what scares them; be it a running child, a person in a hoodie, a bigger dog, etc. I walk many dogs like this in my dog walking pack. They won’t bite, but they need space from what scares them. Dogs don’t push their fears off like humans do. We say, “I can’t take that class; it’s too expensive. Who are they to charge that much, anyways?” When, in reality, we are scared that we won’t succeed, or that we won’t be accepted, and so we push our fears off onto something or someone else.
One day I was out walking my friend, Jonesy. He’s an 80 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback; he’s lanky and very big. We were walking behind a woman who was talking over her shoulder, telling me how I needed to cross the street because she was scared of dogs. Ultimately I did because she proved exceptionally unkind; but in reality, she pushed her fears off onto me and was asking me to be responsible for them.
My very dear friend, Bubba, also a large, handsome Rhodesian Ridgeback, had to have an amputation of his back leg to save him from cancer. He had pain. He was unsure of how to be around all his pals while he was healing. He was trapped numerous times between the couch and the coffee table before brilliantly figuring out how to back up. A mere three months after his surgery, he was back to being Bubba. I’d like to see more humans do that. Lose something and let it truly go.
There is no constant chatter in the mind that keeps them from exploring; no to-do list more important than a shakable stick. Each moment, they are living life exactly as it is. Whether it’s enjoying a good smell, napping, weaving agility poles, hiding under the bed from the thunder, or giving kisses to complete strangers; every moment is filled with the acceptance of what is.