Lessons from a dog

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things about working with dogs or having one of your own, is observing their abundant joy for life and constant need to satiate an undying curiosity about everything under the sun at all times.

To them, a day in which a good stick is discovered and a spoonful of peanut butter is procured is a good day indeed.

Dogs love life.  They don’t worry about things, never hold a grudge, and they don’t contemplate the past….at least I don’t think so.

I’ve never seen Bear choose to go sit in the corner, brow furrowed, pondering the thoughts of yesterday when he has the option of living life today.

And to him, ‘today’ is all the time.   I doubt he would know what yesterday means.

It is possible, perhaps likely, that in his mind the past is only as real as it exists in the present, never to be considered again once it becomes the past. He most certainly has a memory, but he does not seem to use it to mull over anything.  There is some great wisdom in that.

Before you think me completely daft, I am not for a moment suggesting we all stop considering the past and begin living like dogs, moment to moment, without thought or reflection or sense.

At least, not most of the time (:

Dogs are allowed to be extremists in this way because they are creatures unbound, free to live in the present as they carry out their own purpose in this world.  They teach us to forgive, to love like there is no tomorrow, not to judge, to do our duty, to appreciate each moment, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to never forget to be grateful for breakfast.  They also remind us not to remain in cognitive reflection so much that life itself is forgotten.

I have been guilty of this at times, becoming so lost in contemplation of the past that I check out of today.   This is when my dog finds me and brings me back to today real quick, usually by crashing into the room with something pricey in-between his jowls or by turning speedy circles around me with glee in his bright, mischievous eyes.

It’s as if he knows.

And who could resist those roguish little eyes?

He really hasn’t changed all that much in three years, still as mischievous as ever.

Dogs are so implicitly incapable of hatred or prolonged anger, that in order to be trained for attack in police or military work we have learned to initiate their training in the form of a game.

game.  To attack and, you know, occasionally kill.

These dogs aren’t raging when they strike; they’re simply following the rules of the sport they’ve been taught, and happily fulfilling their duty whenever they’re given the chance.   The moment they’re told to release a target, that he’s not the enemy, the guy become the dog’s next new friend.  If you’ve ever worked with these dogs or watched them train, you know this to be true.

Oh, it’s all very serious and often horrific work, to be sure, but they don’t know that.  Dogs working on the field are not angry and disturbed, they’re actually some of the most balanced,  fun-loving creatures I’ve encountered.  They’ve got a job to do and they know it, but it has nothing to do with a desire to kill or destroy.  They give for the joy of it, and for the good it brings to those they serve.

Dogs don’t hold onto things, they are simply too busy living to bother.

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.  ~Robert Benchley


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