My dog is my teacher
Lessons from dogs. They’re everywhere when you have dogs in your life. Early in life, they seem to learn lessons that we humans would benefit from; lessons about kindness, patience, and generally living well. Being the generous beings that they are, if we’re observant and willing, they’re more than happy to teach us.
Quinn, one of our Australian Shepherds, is one heck of a good teacher when I’m paying attention to her. Although I’m not the best pupil, every day she teaches me something new.
One of the qualities I love most about Quinn is her gentleness. She’s kind to all the other dogs and cats, as well as the people in our household. If one of us is having a bad day, she’s right there trying to provide some comfort.
Part of dog social standards seems to include a sense of order, right and wrong, and polite behavior. Even though Quinn is one of the self-appointed dogs in charge, she only corrects one of the others if they have really crossed the line.
And she does it as kindly and minimally as possible. No over-reaction or drama is involved. Could it be that I might handle situations as calmly as Quinn? One of the lessons from dogs that I need to learn.
How Quinn came into our lives
A little background on our loveable red tornado. We got her sort of by accident. Our daughter wanted to get a dog companion for her older dog and found this adorable puppy online. She picked her up, brought her home, and her older dog HATED the puppy. Like, really hated her. So much so that we were concerned for her safety.
Me, being the dog lover I am, agreed to take Quinn into our household. It was a match made in Heaven, more or less. She touched my heart pretty much immediately. She had such a sweet, willing to please but still be her own dog, kind of way about her—one of the lessons from dogs that I could stand to learn and practice.
Lessons from dogs as taught by Quinn
Most days, going outside is the beginning of our daily routine. Coming from a long line of working dogs, routine helps to make every day a good day. I have to agree with her. When I follow my routine, I get so much more done. Another lesson learned.
After her morning perimeter check, it’s time for a nap near me while I do my morning stuff. I love that she stays with me. If she’s anyone’s dog, she’s mine, although I think she’s really her own dog. I get so wrapped up in doing things for everyone else that I forget to be my own person. Quinn is helping me work on that.
How to get what you want; lessons from dogs, master level.
Quinn has learned that patience and persistence usually help her get what she wants. For example, when she wants to go outside, she walks a few steps toward the door, then looks at me intently. Then walks a few more steps. She’ll repeat this a few times.
If it doesn’t work right away, she starts making noises and getting more active. This tactic is followed by her bumping and nudging me to get my attention. I am usually aware of her desires by this time but sometimes choose to finish what I’m working on or see how far she’ll go.
If I still haven’t received the message, she will jump into my lap, getting between me and my work. It’s tough to ignore 45 pounds of intensity, so I usually give in by this time. This is when she knows she has succeeded. Again.
I suppose I could train her differently; maybe work on discipline, but I don’t. Quinn is just working her strategy on me. This is how her patience and persistence get her what she wants. Lessons from dogs are everywhere.
Every day is a perfect day
A perfect day for Quinn equals lots of ball playing. This dog will play fetch as many times as I’ll throw the ball. She runs and jumps hard every single time. There is no holding back here.
I don’t think Quinn knows how to live any other way. She puts her all into each thing that she does. How often do we, as people, truly put our all into something? I know I’m guilty of stopping short on occasion. But Quinn is a great example of pure try.
Whether it is playing ball, taking naps, riding to the post office, eating, or loving, Quinn gives everything she’s got. One of the most valuable lessons from dogs is to give our all in everything we do, even the simple, everyday things. That makes every day a great day in her world!
For more about Quinn, my teacher, and my dog, read Why do we have dogs? or Herding dogs herd. I also found this inspirational little poem online about lessons from dogs. Tell me about the lessons your dogs have taught you in the comments below.