Posts Tagged: dogs

The Five Best Lessons from Dogs about Self-Love

Good Morning and Happy Valentines Day! My daughter is taking Spanish this year and reminded me that Wednesday’s Spanish name is miercoles. Come on! Is that the prettiest name for a day of the week, ever? It sounds like “miracle.” So Happy Miracle Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this blog is for you and you alone. Valentine’s Day reminds us to show love to the people around us, but it is equally important to show love to ourselves. Who better to inspire self-love but good natured, lovable dogs?

One night, my 105 pound black lab, Frisco attacked and destroyed a birthday present I was planning on giving a friend. He ate the contents (yes, there was chocolate and no, it didn’t kill him, much to Mr. Dashing’s disappointment) and then projectiled-it-out both ends. He shredded the paper, slobbered on the hard woods, (dried slobber is really tough to get up, it turns out) and marked the fireplace as his personal territory. He seriously went full-lab bonkers. He greeted us at the door with wild, caffeinated eyes and a happy tail. No remorse, no regret, no shame. All happy. I’m scrubbing stains out of the carpet and he’s wapping me with his happy tail.

It got me thinking, why can’t we be more like that? Why can’t we get over our mistakes as quickly as our dogs do? Granted, he did slink out the back door once I started yelling, but after a little while, he was back to his normal irritating self, without a care in the world. I don’t know about you, even after I make things right, I find myself rehearsing my mistakes, regretting my choice of words, and feeling guilty for my indulgences about an hour too long after they’ve happened. Who am I kidding? Ok, about two ½ days too long, actually.

So, I think I’m going to adopt Frisco’s style. I kind of admire the way he gets over himself. I kind of like how he forgives himself quickly and gets to his happy place again. What if we all could do that? And I have a sneaking suspicion, that if we forgave ourselves quickly, we’d be better able to do it for others too. Here are some things that Dog’s Just Don’t Do, and that if we followed suit, we just might wag our happy tail.

1.       Dogs don’t have self-doubt. You know the worry that sneaks up on you that you’re going to bollix everything up? That you could single handedly cause world mayhem? That you could do it so badly that you’d never live it down? Yeah, that’s called self-doubt, and I’m pretty sure dogs don’t have it. I’m pretty sure they don’t even think about the future or their place in it. Can you imagine Frisco saying to himself, “Oh, gee, I don’t think I’m a very good hole digger. There’s probably better hole diggers than me. I should just stop trying before people find out I’m such a failure of a hole digger.” No, he doesn’t judge his work, his hole digging performance or his behaviors at all. He just digs holes.

2.       They don’t feel guilty for napping and over eating. Dogs embrace the simple indulgences in life- napping in the sun, laying on the couch, sneaking food off the counter, chasing their tail, inhaling their food, throwing it up and eating it again. Yes! Dogs really know how to live in the lap of slothful luxury! What’s more, they do these things without a hint of Guilt. No remorse. No apologies. What would it be like to eat your meal, lick your lips and then roll around on the floor exposing your bare belly to everyone in the living room saying, “Look at this,people! Rub my belly!”

3.       They don’t get embarrassed. Mr. Dashing and I had a beagle named McKenzie before Sweet and Sassy were born. One time she raced off the porch at top speed and completely missed her landing. She rolled a few times, shook off her surprise and kept running. I’m pretty sure she didn’t say to herself, “How could I be so clumsy? I’m such an idiot! I shouldn’t even be allowed to run anymore! Look, everybody’s laughing at me!” No, dogs don’t have that thing inside them that says they should be embarrassed at mistakes. I’d say that dogs don’t feel shame, but I’ve seen a poodle with a hair cut, and a collie with a cone, and I’m confident that dogs feel shame. But they don’t feel shame or embarrassment over mistakes. That’s a human thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to feel awkward or embarrassed over missteps, mispronunciations, misunderstandings, mis-communications and ordinary mistakes?

4.       They don’t hide their pleasure. When you do something that makes a dog feel good, they don’t keep their feelings on the inside. No! They groan, and moan, and roll their eyes back in delight. Their back leg involuntarily does that kicking thing, and they embrace ecstasy with full expression. Their whole body feels and expresses their joy. They chase and bark and run like crazy. A friend was baptized last week and when she came up out of the water, she jumped with hands in the air and water flying. That’s how I want to be about the things that bring me happiness. I want to embrace the fullness of joy and feel it to the maximum. I want to laugh loud, cry often, and feel to the depths. That’s where it’s at.

5.       They don’t do it alone. Dogs are pack animals and just can’t stand being without their family. If they are not with their pack, they don’t feel at peace. They don’t say silly things to themselves like, “Well, I shouldn’t need help from anybody. I should be able to do this on my own. I should be more self-sufficient! Maybe God just meant for me to be alone.” No! they love to be with their pack. They understand that doing life together with other people is not a weakness, but a strength. They understand that they need their pack, and their pack needs them. Your friends, family, sisterhood, and bros are the life blood in your veins and the reason you go on each day. Don’t deny them the gift of you.

There are more things that dogs don’t do, like clean up after themselves, stay off your bed, keep their hair to themselves, or respect your personal space but I can’t think of anything positive or inspirational to write about those things.

Much love to you all on your journey to relationship happiness and health. Give yourself a break today, give yourself the same love that God has for you.

DOG BLOG: Do You Ever Feel This Way?

Hi, I’m Frisco.
Yesterday, Princess took me for our weekly run. Princess is my owner.  I was the ultimate running buddy. I pooped in the tall grass so she wouldn’t have to pick it up. I pulled her when she started to lag behind, and I stopped to pee a lot so she could catch her breath. I only darted in front of her once, but that was because I saw a rabbit, and he was twitching his nose and tail, and that’s just irresistible. I think she understood, because she didn’t scold me. Anyway she was probably just glad she didn’t trip and fall on her face.

Let me just be upfront about something. This family would not survive without me. I mean, I am their universe. It’s probably not healthy, like in an optimal functional family type of way. But let’s just be honest, I’m the butter to their bread, the sugar on their berries, the swatter to their fly- I’m it. I’m all they have. Their life must have been an empty hole, a dark abyss, a desolate cavern before I came.

Princess is high maintenance, if you know what I mean. She’s real neurotic about how I should act, who I hang around, and what food I eat. I get out of line, she’s on me like a tic. But it didn’t take long before I had her wrapped around my dew claw. What can I say, the chicks dig me. We make out all the time. It’s awesome.

So when Princess gets upset with something I do, I just have to roll my eyes. You can’t really improve on perfection, you know? It’s like she doesn’t know that everything I do has a purpose.

Take for instance, territorial marking. I peed on the carpet in the den because they moved in an aquarium, three fish, and a frog. I had to communicate the hierarchical system here. Princess always talk about “effective communication” as the “foundation to any relationship” bla bla bla. I was communicating to the subordinates. And it was effective.

Another example is my duty to protect. My bark is fierce. It’s epic. It has the power to intimidate and threaten. I employ it when there is certain danger to life, limb or property.

Last night, when the family was sleeping, I was on guard, patrolling the property. My family was dreaming of my beautiful brown eyes and my strapping muscles, when the back yard was inundated with a malicious  posse of raccoons. I barked incessantly to ward off the masked bandits. I don’t know why Princess was so upset. If  she knew what I had just done for her precious tomato plants, she would have given me treats instead of stomping around the living room in a huff. I was communicating. And it was effective.

When Princess and I were on our run this morning, we ran into some neighbors. They had a new dog and that dog was wondering who was boss. I could tell because he was sniffing all up in my business, and that means only one thing to me. Time to ALPHA up. I established my dominance quickly by raising my tail, jumping on him, and issuing a growl of warning.

What? I was communicating! And it was effective!

Princess pulled me off, yanked my chain, and scolded me. She hissed something like, “You don’t have to dominate everybody all the time! Geez! He just wanted to play!”

I don’t play. I compete.  I dominate. That’s when she said, “I get it, I do! I know you want everyone to think you’re top dog. But nobody wants to play with you if you’re going to act like that. Don’t try to be the best, just try to have fun!”

And then she got real quiet, and she didn’t say anything else for the rest of the run. I think it’s because she’s the same way. I think it all struck a chord. I think it’s hard for her to let her guard down and just have fun. I see it in her temples- she’s stressed and short and snippy. She likes to compete. She likes to win. She likes to be the best too. And she forgets to have fun.

One thing I know, is that when I’m feeling really fine, like really fine– sun’s up, rabbits out, scents-on-the-breeze type of fine, I trust Princess a whole lot. She’s got me firm on the leash. She gives me a tug just to remind me she is there, and I forget about being the top dog. I forget about having to prove myself. I forget about competing, and I just have fun. I fetch, and play, and sniff and wag. It’s me and her, and we’re happy.

But when big dogs are around, I lose myself and I forget she’s got me, that she won’t let anything happen to me that I can’t handle. I forget that I don’t have to worry. Worry about what the other dogs think of me. Worry if they’ll respect me. Worry if they’ll ….ok… admire me. When I worry, I self-protect, self promote, self-aggrandize. I gotta compete. I gotta perform so no one will take advantage of me. I forget that having fun is way better than being Top Dog.

I wonder if she feels the same way. I wonder if she forgets that her Prince has got her. That her Prince will take care of protecting her, and respecting her, and making her important. I wonder if she forgets that her Prince values her, and she doesn’t need to act like Alpha to get her value. That she’s the butter to His bread, the sugar to His berries, the swatter to His fly. That she should stop worrying about being the best, and just try to have fun.

But what do I know, I’m just a dog.

Psalm 117:6-8

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings…

Little Gifts Unwrapped: Frisco Eats Chirp

Hey- thanks for visiting. I’m making some videos since it’s a bit easier to watch and listen while you’re doing other things. Enjoy! Here is the video version…Little Gifts Unwrapped: Frisco eats Chirp

And here is the written version:

It was Easter weekend and my eight year old daughter and I decided we wanted to become urban chicken farmers. The idea of chickens roaming our back yard making eggs for our breakfast seemed lovely. The notion that our black lab may be a problematic variable crossed my mind, but I was sure that I could convince him that Chickens were our friends, not food.
We went to the farm and feed supply store and picked out our little chicks. Evelyn named them, Cheep, Chirp and Loudy. On the ride home she cuddled them, cooed over them and was generally smitten with their cuteness. I dropped her off at a play date while I set up the new coop.
I brought the chicks inside the house to keep them warm and went back out to the garage to get the supplies. From the garage, I heard a crash. I knew immediately that the unthinkable had occurred- that the beast had attacked our new pets. I screamed and ran into the house, where I found a lifeless, slobbery chick laying at the foot of my crazed, wild eyed black lab. I ordered him outside to finish the job he’d started and I rushed to save the survivors. It looked like Cheep and Loudy made it. After securing their safety in a locked car, I made a few phone calls to some chicken farmers so I could find them a new home.
Gone were the urban chicken farmer dreams. The chicken infanticide happened on good Friday. I knew I had to break the news to Evelyn. I picked her up from her play date and carefully explained that our HOA would not allow chickens in our neighborhood. I thought I may be able to get away with not telling her the whole truth. She furrowed her brow and said, “Our neighbors already do it. W should just do it and not tell the HOA.” She knew this is what I was planning to do anyway. Then I said,” well, there is one other reason we can’t have our chicks. Frisco ate one.”
Oh, the weeping, the mourning, the tears as she accepted the truth of what happened. Then I told her that I had to find a new home for the chicks at a nice farm up the road. And Evelyn said with a flash of anger, “We should have found Frisco a new home, and kept the chicks!”
Nothing would console her. All day Saturday she refused to even look at our dog. Imagining him eating one of her precious little chicks was too much for her. That night, she and I watched an animal show on television and it had a segment on birds. Frisco was laying on the floor underneath our feet. There was some cheeping from the television, and he immediately perked up and started hunting! Like Pavlov’s dog, he was conditioned that cheeping sounds meant a delicious snack! That just poured salt in Evelyn’s wound.
By Easter morning, she came to me and said, “I think it’s time that I forgive Frisco. He was just doing what dogs do.”
Nothing could bring the chick back, but because of forgiveness, a girl and her dog could be friends again. God invented this transformative concept of forgiveness that has the power to mend what’s been broken. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial love, losing all so we could gain, creating a means by which we can have relationship restoration, we can be restored to God. The things we do because of our humanness, won’t separate us from God anymore. God freely offers us forgiveness. We can say to other people who hurt us, “I think it’s time to forgive. They were just doing what humans do.”
Ephesians 1:7 and 8 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

As we receive this grace for ourselves, we are better able to offer it to the people around us.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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