Five Things I’ve Learned From My Dogs


Here’s the deal: None of these concepts are new, but I forget this simple advice, as I bet some of you do, so it bears repeating.

1.  Stretch. Often.

I hadn’t thought about this for so long, since gym class in college in fact; We were reminded of the importance of stretching your muscles before and after a workout.  I caught on when I saw Lola stretching her (once lithe) body whenever she got up from lying down, and also at random other times.  I assume she was relieving muscle stress, preparing for a nice run, and the like.

I tried it. It’s surprisingly good.  Stretch first thing in the morning, or whenever you are waiting around for an appointment.

Especially get up and stretch on flights. I witnessed some odd maneuvers on my last transatlantic flight, performed by conscientious travellers. They looked a bit funny, but they were the smart ones, trying to stave off fatigue and worse.

Release some of that stiffness and get the toxins flowing and out of your system. Since I’m not a yoga convert (yet) the benefits of stretching have not been ingrained in my subconscious. Luckily the dogs are here to remind me.

2. Love easily, forgive quickly, savor the small pleasures.

They live in the moment, my dogs. You never forget you are loved around them. Any transgression or rebuke is quickly forgotten in favor of affection — given or received.

The little one might have forgotten where he was supposed to go potty, but when you tell him off for the umpteenth time, he is not put off. He bounds back within seconds at the prospect of a treat or a ball.

You leave them at home for a day’s work. The separation anxiety betrayed in sad puppy-dog eyes may be heartbreaking on your depature, but by the time you get back, you get an enthusiastic welcome and all is forgotten.

In dog-world, there is no time to dwell on the past when good times lie ahead.

3.  Use it or lose it.

This applies to all sorts of things. Good food. Your stuff. Friendships.

If one of the dogs gets a treat or bone and decides to hoard it for later, you can be sure the other will swoop in and steal it, given half the chance.

My dad used to buy me those gift sets of mini French perfumes on his business travels. They were so nice, I didn’t have the heart to open them, so there they sat on the dressing table, looking pretty.

By the time I realized they were just dust magnets, and I had better start enjoying them, they had gone rancid. Same goes for that nice china that self-help gurus are always telling you to use. What are you saving it for?

4.  Seize every opportunity to smile and play

Okay, the dog equivalent of smiling has got to be tail-wagging, and look how often and easily they do it. Anything or anyone can get their tail thrashing in a flash. We’d all feel much better if we try to find the small things to smile at, making less time for the things that upset us. I’ve read of endless studies that show this enhances our well-being. Similarly, playing. You will rarely see a dog sit still at the sight of a moving toy. I am with the Tim Ferris school of thought that people work waaaay too much.

Again, I think many people work more hours than are comfortable, so they can afford to buy all the things we never knew we needed till they hit the consumer-radar.  My good, wise friend (we’ll call her Ricky) hit the nail on the head: “I would rather spend less and have to work less.”

Why is this simple genius concept so overlooked?

Any time I have bought Sebs (the still young and destructive dog) a fancy pet-store chew toy, he has ignored it and gone straight back to demolishing a cardboard box. He hasn’t caught the advertising bug yet. But he knows how to have fun.

Playtime doesn’t have to be sophisticated. Just decide that everything you do will be done with an element of fun, if at all possible.

One of my favorite parts of my work is to put on a chick-flick, sit on the sofa and go through my latest jewelry finds for sale, sorting, cleaning and pricing.

5.  Appreciate the goodness of a snooze

Resting. So underrated.

Any time the dogs aren’t in one of their active modes, they are usually found languishing in one of any number of comfortable positions and locations, as if they have just run a marathon.

I don’t know why Maggie Thatcher, back in the day, along with other overachievers, always bragged about only needing 5 hours sleep. Sleep is necessary, to recharge your batteries and regenerate cells. I don’t function well when I am tired, and start making poor decisions, so I’m all for getting as much rest as I can.

I haven’t bought into the idea that we should be constantly finding ways to pack in more into our already hectic lives. It’s ironic that the more we develop technology that systemizes and eliminates human labor, the less time we seem to have, and the more overextended we become.