Are you more of a dog person or a cat person?
Me? I can’t choose… I like them both!
Earlier in my childhood, we had a variety of pets, including dogs, but after the age of 10, we’ve really only had cats. I enjoy cats because they are low-maintenance, elegant, and very loving animals with a complex charm. So… I guess I would say that I have become more used to having cats around.
Until this year, that is.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember my brother’s dog, Carlita. You can read more about her on my first (and so far, only) Scribble Share.
My brother and his family went to live in France for the year, and they left Carlita with my mom. Recently, my mom went to visit them in France for a month, so she left the dog with us (me, my son, and my husband). When my mom returned to Canada, she injured her foot while working in the yard (Fortunately, nothing serious), which meant that she couldn’t walk the dog for most of last week. So, Carlita stayed with us again until my mom’s foot started to heal.
Having a dog as a pet, albeit temporarily, has been a bit of a novelty for us. They are a big commitment, almost like another baby! But it is easy to see why people think of dogs as Man’s Best Friend.
This sweet little Carlita has helped me see some of the neat things that a dog brings into your life, aside from the obvious unconditional love, and loads of fun!
Some of the neat things that a dog brings into your life:
1) A chance to be exuberantly joyful on a daily basis.
Every time I would get home, I would be greeted by the unrestrained joy that Carlita felt at our reunion. Of course, I would join in her excitement, laughing and talking to her in that silly voice that we naturally reserve for babies and cute animals. Really, though – When else does one get to be that excited about anything, let alone something so ordinary as walking through the front door?
How wonderful that every arrival became an excuse to express unabashed joy!
2) An example of how to be totally in the moment.
One day when I got home from work, I took Carlita for a walk. I’m usually pretty mindful of the beauty around me as I walk through the park, but on this day I was preoccupied with work, and my thoughts were far away, worrying about deadlines, decisions, and interactions with colleagues. I was starting to get a headache. That’s when I looked at Carlita and really noticed how, as we walked, she had her nose buried in the thick, green grass. At that moment, the grass was her world, the reality in which she was completely immersed. I bet she wasn’t worried about whether I would give her that new canned dog food which she doesn’t like for supper, or which direction we would walk on our next outing. No, she was just smelling that grass, giving all of her attention to the lush green blades that beckoned.
Yup. Dogs really know how to be in the moment. Looking at her that afternoon, I took a deep breath, and remembered to pay more attention to the gorgeous, bright day around me. We have a lot to think about as humans, and learning to take a break by being “in the moment” can be simpler than we make it. Dogs have it licked.
In fact, today when I got home from work, I went for a walk (no dog this time, she is happily back with my mom). I took a page from the book of Carlita.
I looked up at the trees, and focused my attention on the physical world around me. I noticed the shapes, and textures of the trees; the colour of the sky against the miriad of greens; the sound of birds echoing above. I noticed the sensation of the breeze against me, and the drifting fragrance of the flowers.
And I felt relaxed, joyful, and better prepared to take on the rest of the week.
3) A dog encourages you to get outside and walk.
This is especially true with Carlita, who simply will not pee in the yard. (I don’t know why! I certainly wished that she would, late on Friday nights). She is a dog that needs to be walked, several times a day. Sometimes long walks, sometimes short, but walking became an obligatory part of my day, every day.
4) The vitality of a new perspective.
This relates to the previous point. With a dog around, I had to walk at times of the day when I normally wouldn’t. Like first thing in the morning, before heading to work. These morning walks were not long, just a couple of blocks, but instantaneously de-stressed me. To step outside and move a bit, smell the fresh morning air, and listen to all of the birds chirping their lovely melodies was remarkably relaxing. And it only took a few minutes.
I also had moments of bliss walking Carlita early on Saturday mornings, when I would normally be sitting on the couch, drinking a coffee. One morning, it had rained, so the bark of the trees was dark, a deep contrast to the rich, green leaves. The wood chips on the path looked exceptionally reddish, and the air felt soft and fresh. If it hadn’t been because of Carlita, I would have missed the joy of walking in the park on that drizzly Saturday morning.
Sure, I have taken morning walks in the past, and I used to jog in the mornings. But now days I tend to reserve my walks for the afternoon. It was revitalizing to change up my routine, and head out for walks when I normally wouldn’t.
5) And let’s face it, dogs sure know how to relax after a good walk!
Oh Carlita, that funny, sweet little dog! (Ps. My husband took these yawning pictures. They made me chuckle!)
A dog can teach us a thing or two about living well, and I’m not too proud to learn!
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