5 life lessons I learned from living with a dog | SHW #9
My parents went out of town this week and they asked me to watch their dog while they were gone. Meet Boomer.
I’ve had dogs in the past, but ever since adopting cats, I’ve found that they suit my energy much more. They’re quiet, independent, and can largely take care of themselves while still providing lots of cuddles and love.
While Boomer completely exhausted me, I learned a lot from him over the past few days. These are some of the lessons I’m going to be continuing to think about even now that he’s gone.
1. Wake up every morning with gratitude and excitement
Boomer sleeps in his crate at night. He voluntarily goes in there if you throw him a few treats. But whenever I walk away, he looks at me like I may never come back.
Every morning I go to let him out, he’s overjoyed. He’s jumping with excitement, giving me kisses, and pumped to go on his morning walk.
I don’t know what he’s actually thinking, but I can only imagine he’s grateful and happy that I returned for him, and he gets to have another day.
Most mornings, I roll out of bed at the last minute and just pray that the day won’t be too much of a hassle. I rarely think, “Holy shit. Another day. What a blessing.”
I imagine our days would be filled with much more joy if those were our first thoughts every morning.
I’m going to be taking more of a Boomer approach to my morning routine going forward.
2. Express your discontentment
While I do think it’s important to express joy and gratitude each day, I also believe it’s equally important to be honest with ourselves when we’re not happy.
Boomer is mostly a bundle of joy, but there are times when he’s less than pleased with me.
Sometimes he’ll pull back on his leash because he wants to go another direction. Sometimes, if I leave him on another floor of our house, he’ll bark and whine until I let him join the rest of the family (he has short little legs and can’t climb stairs 🙃).
Sometimes Boomer doesn’t get what he wants. I’ll drag him along the walk or make him wait for me downstairs.
But there are times where I give in and let him sniff a bush a little longer or carry him like a baby around the house.
The important thing here is that if he never expressed his discontentment, I would never know that he wanted something different.
I have deep-rooted people-pleasing tendencies and if I’m not happy with something, I usually won’t say anything at all because I don’t want to be a bother. Then, I get annoyed when it feels like everything is working against me.
If I expressed my discontentment from time to time, I still may not always get what I want, but sometimes I will.
And even if I don’t, it feels so much better to be honest with myself and the people around me.
Even when Boomer doesn’t get what he wants, at least he knows that he barked his truth.
3. Always be in relentless pursuit
My cats were not happy about the living arrangements while Boomer was a guest.
I have two cats. Boomer has never really been around cats. We had no idea how he’d react to them.
Turns out, Boomer isn’t very receptive.
The first time one of my cats popped their head down the stairs, Boomer jumped up, barked, and chased them away.
After that first encounter, he was always on the look out. He would sniff around, wait at the bottom of the stairs, and randomly growl and bark just so they knew he was still thinking about them.
While I wanted them to get along, I couldn’t help but admire his determination.
My cats are fast and very alert. There was absolutely no way in hell Boomer would be able to catch them with his tiny legs. He can’t even climb stairs for crying out loud.
But he loved the chase and the pursuit. He wanted to catch them and was willing to ignore all of his shortcomings and work tirelessly until he did.
If you want something, go after it with all you’ve got.
No matter how impossible it may seem or how much effort it may require, go after what you want until you have it.
4. Follow your energy
This is my favorite thing about pets. Since they have no responsibilities, they get to do whatever the hell they want.
When Boomer has energy, he runs, jumps, and tosses his toy turtle up in the air.
When Boomer is tired, he passes out on the couch or his bed.
He does exactly what he has the energy for. You know what he wants, because he just does it.
I think humans are the absolute worst at this, and it largely isn’t our fault. Our society has been built in such a way that has us constantly doing things we don’t have the energy for.
We walk down paths in life we aren’t interested in because that’s what everyone else is doing.
We get paid to do work we hate because we don’t know how else we’ll pay for our bills or health insurance.
We don’t allow ourselves to take breaks because we feel obligated to show up for everyone else.
I find pets to be so interesting because they just do exactly what they were put on this Earth to do.
Imagine how much more satisfying and fulfilled our lives would feel if we followed our energy the same way they do.
5. Patience is always rewarded
Boomer loves meal time. Not just his meal time, but the human’s meal time too.
My boyfriend cooks dinner for us every night, and when he gets the stove going, Boomer is right there underneath him.
He sits quietly and patiently waits for the inevitable moment when my boyfriend accidentally drops some food.
Occasionally, this doesn’t happen. My boyfriend will have a clean night for once.
This doesn’t deter Boomer.
He continues to wait and wait and every once in a while, a little piece of something will slip off the counter. When it does, Boomer is ready to pounce.
I love his patience. Even when it looks like he might not get what he wants, he continues to wait and is often rewarded.
Instant gratification is something we love and often want. We’re impatient and will quickly give up if things aren’t going our way.
But if we give up too soon we won’t be ready when the crumb finally hits the floor. We miss out on our opportunity.
When we’re patient and intentional, the universe will always deliver.
I hope you can take away something from one of Boomer’s lessons. Thank you, sweet boy.