5 Things a Dog Can Teach You

LoboI just finished reading (or hearing an audiobook) Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote, and it has me blubbering over the rich, mysterious and growing relationship I have with my dog Lobo.

Like Kerasote’s dog Merle, Lobo has a language all his own. He is bonded first and foremost to my husband Jon, but I’m a close second. I knew he was coming before I saw him, since I had a strange prophetic dream in which I saw his face and heard a voice saying his name was Lobo and that he would be my dog. I was pretty startled and then forgot about the dream until a neighbor brought a rescue dog over to meet us. The name on his tag was Kenai, but I recognized him as Lobo. Since that day, over 5 years ago, Lobo has taught us many things. Here are 5 that I think any of us who have dogs have experienced:

1. Dogs offer us the experience of unconditional love. They give it and they invite us to return it. They often serve as a contrast to the way we usually operate–thus the successful bumper sticker reading, “Let me be the person my dog believes me to be.”

2. Dogs teach us about non-verbal communication. Sure they bark and moan and growl, and Lobo even howls. But we learn more from watching him communicate his reactions just with body language. Ears go back and tail lowers:”Oh, do we have to put that collar on?”

3. Dogs remind us to come to our senses. On a literal level, they remind us to listen, to look and to smell. To relish being petted and stroked and cuddled. And that is often what we need when we’re thinking too much.

4.  Dogs teach us about being in the moment. I do believe Lobo has memory and also can move into the future, as he does when he sees us packing for a trip or loading the truck. But he can move from sad to happy as quickly as one moment morphs into another.

5.  Dogs teach us about forgiveness. We’ve let Lobo down hundreds of times. Every time we leave could be seen as a betrayal. And he doesn’t like scolding. It’s true that he is suspicious of men wearing baseball caps holding objects over their heads. But nothing is personal; he forgives all.

In my strange prophetic dream, the voice said Lobo would be my teacher, and that has surely come true. Right now he is lying on his outdoor bed on the driveway, guarding his estate.  And who knows? Maybe even from a distance, he can feel my gratitude.

What stories do you have about dogs as teachers? Healers?

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