LESSONS MY DOG HAS TAUGHT ME
Dogs. *Sigh* What can I say? There's a reason why dogs are Man's best friend. It's kind of inexpiable, but I know dog owners will get me when I say that the relationship with a dog is worth everything. They are are loyal, honest, funny, ADORABLE, loving... they're pretty much the closest thing to perfection.
In 2013, I adopted a vibrant and energetic one year old lab/husky mix from my local shelter in New Iberia, Louisiana. I had been thinking about a dog and I decided that my move to New Orleans would be the perfect time to adopt. So, long story short, I went to visit the shelter and fell in love. As soon as we walked out the door together, I realized this would be one of the most rewarding challenges I'd face so far in my life.
I won't lie, the first year or so with Koda was trying. He was afraid of many everyday things like cars, stairs (& I lived in a second floor apartment!), shadows, & loud noises... just to name a few. He was anxious in crowds and he'd bark endlessly when I'd leave. Sorry, neighbors! At that point, I wasn't sure how I felt about having a dog & was afraid I had made the wrong choice. Despite my qualms, Koda stayed by my side, loving me endlessly day in and day out. And that's when I realized how much I could learn from having a dog in my life. Here are 7 lessons he's taught me so far...
1. A little TLC goes a long way
No matter my mood, Koda is always there to put a smile on my face. When someone is snappy because they've had a bad day, extend a little tender love & care by taking some stress out of their life. Do the dishes, take out the trash, make them laugh, or give them a back rub and then watch their frown turn upside down.
2. An attitude of gratitude brings endless joy
Above all else, Koda is grateful to be alive. He approaches everything with a sense of wonder and excitement. Taking a step back, realizing how lucky we are, and appreciating it is not always easy for us humans, but doing so will always bring joy into our lives.
3. Always say yes to a car ride
Spontaneity leads to unexpected adventures and memories. It's the spice of life and keeps the daily routine from getting boring. Say yes to the car ride!
4. Never be afraid to show you care
Koda never misses a chance to snuggle me or give me a big puppy kiss. When we freely show our affection to others, it shows them how we feel. Sometimes words aren't always enough. Action is where it's at!
5. Enjoy the little things
Killed that new recipe? WIN. Watching a beautiful sunset? WIN. Prying yourself out of bed on the first alarm ring? SUPER-DUPER WIN. Celebrating your small wins that happen every day keeps you excited for life. After all, the journey is the reward!
6. Consistency is everything
Besides children, nothing will teach you how to be consistent like getting a dog. Between morning and afternoon walks, monthly heart worm meds, bi-weekly baths, regular brushings, and routine vet visits, it's pretty important to be consistent with your pup. When Koda came into my life, so did a sense of discipline. Whether it's a business endeavor or a new Love, consistency and discipline are key because they allow us to make everything fruitful.
7. Patience is bitter but the fruit is sweet
I'll be the first to say that I am NOT a patient person by nature. When I want something finished, I want it finished NOW. When I start something new, I expect to see results ASAP. So needless to say, a new pup 100% tested my patience. But patience with a new pup is just as important as consistency and discipline. Dogs will chew on your furniture, have potty accidents, and exhibit bad manners, like jumping up on people, when you bring them in public. The breaking of these bad habits doesn't happen overnight and you can't expect it to. You have to wait! This taught me that consistency + discipline + patience = magic.
8. Unconditional love
Koda doesn't judge. He loves me because I'm me & he will love you because you are you. There are no other requirements. Allowing people to be the person they are, and loving them for it, creates openness and builds trust. Knowing that you can 100% be yourself with the person sitting next to you without fear of judgement is a pretty empowering feeling.