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5 Life Lessons My Dog Taught Me

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My dog is easily one of my best friends. On top of that, many of us consider our canines to be our best friends or part of the family.

They are full of love and so easy to love. When I watch my dog live her simple life, I often find myself learning from her. I can teach her the fanciest tricks, but she teaches me life lessons.

If you’re a dog owner, you can probably relate.

Here are just of few of the things I’ve learned from my dog:

1. Show those you love how much you care.

My dog cuddles with me for no reason, and she’s happy to see me when I come home. Her tail wags when we look at her or say her name, and I do not doubt that she loves me as much as I love her.

In the human world, we tend to be much more cruel. Our family members become casual fixtures in everyday life, and we’re often nicer to strangers than we are to our family. We become so used to someone else’s presence that we become indifferent, until only the dog comes to greet us at the door.

2. ”Me” time is not a waste of time.

I’m not encouraging everyone to live like dogs and sleep for hours and hours during the days and nights. But I do advocate taking personal time for yourself, even if that includes a Netflix binge or playing video games, as long as it is not severely interrupting your life.

Everyone needs time to themselves. Everyone needs to take care of themselves. As long as you are using the time to relax and recharge yourself (and it is not severely interrupting your life), you are not wasting your time.

When my dog is tired, she rests. If she’s thirsty, she gets a drink of water. She takes breaks for herself, which we humans often forget to do in busy days. I’ve caught my dog laying by the window to get some sunlight, just enjoying herself and the warm sun.

3. Always be open to joy rides.

It doesn’t mean that you have to take every one. But be open to a spontaneous hike or walk in the park, or a cruise your friend invited you on, or a random road trip.

Again, being open to a spontaneous adventure doesn’t mean you need to take every one. But it is refreshing to see my dog excited for a walk or a road trip or even a plane ride.

My dog is a little dog, and I have actually taken her on a plane. She doesn’t care where she’s going, as long as she’s with the ones that she loves. That’s an attitude we can all learn from.

4. The simple life is full of joy.

If we really think about it, a dog’s life is quite dull and boring. I can only speak for my dog, but she sleeps all day and her main entertainment is her food, her exercise (her routine walks), and her family. The canine world is low commitment, but also very dull for humans.

But to my dog, she has everything: food/water, exercise, and her family. It seems so simple, and she finds adventures in everyday things. She barks at every squirrel or rabbit in the yard, and she can entertain herself with her toys endlessly. Even the most routine walks have something interesting and different every day.

In the human world, a lot of us desperately need a purpose or higher meaning. For our beloved canines, having health, fitness and love is enough.

5. How to just listen.

Dogs are easily the most popular ones in the room. They don’t discriminate, and they find all people interesting. What makes dogs so popular is that they don’t make things about them. They aren’t talking about themselves, they aren’t being fake with you, and they aren’t judging you. Dogs listen. They completely and genuinely interested in you because you are a living and breathing human.

In reality, people are interesting. A lot of people have amazing stories and wonderful adventures, and most are willing to share their experiences to those who take interest and care. People will talk if they believe the other person is listening. Maybe the dogs don’t actually understand what we’re saying, but we as humans can. If we start listening too, we can learn a lot from each other.

To point out the obvious, the canine world is extremely different from the human world. They don’t have commitments, they don’t have obligatory finances to attend to, and they don’t fall in love or get married (though I have heard of some doggie weddings).

This isn’t meant to encourage us all to live carelessly and animalistically like our four-legged friends. It’s just meant to watch our best animal friends, learn from their simple lives, and find ways to apply their lessons in our own lives.

About the Author

Lindsey Zawila

Lindsey graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 with a B.A. in Global Studies and Communications. She studied abroad in Austria (Summer 2013), Switzerland (Spring 2014), and India (Winter 2014). Her previous internships include the World YWCA in Geneva, Switzerland, the Foreign Service Institute at the U.S State Department in Washington, D.C., and CNN International in Atlanta, GA. In her free time, you'll find her reading, writing, making jewelry or friendship bracelets, sewing or refining her photography skills.