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Five Life Lessons My Dog Has Taught Me

My wife and I rescued a wonderful seven and a half year old beagle named Tobey a few months ago. In that time, this little guy has really grown on me. He sleeps while I work, he follows me on walks, and has a pretty cushy life that I’m greatly envious of. However, he’s taught me a lot about life in general.

People have often asked us, why did we rescue an older dog? That’s a lesson in and of itself and one that I won’t even count as the five I’ll share! We didn’t intend to rescue a seven year old dog, we simply sought out a dog we could love and lead and found it in Tobey. He just happened to be seven. We know we could’ve rescued a younger dog but we met the little Tobester, we got along with him, and he joined our family. Every dog, like every person, needs love and we don’t discriminate based on age. 🙂

Push the limits

Dogs are like children, they only know the limits that you tell them and they are constantly testing them. When someone gives you an inch, take a mile. Tobey knows he shouldn’t be climbing on tables and peeking over counter-tops, but he does it anyway when he thinks we’re not looking. Why? He’s testing us. He’s finding the limits and finding how hard those limits are.

You should be testing the world. Don’t set limits for yourself, let the world tell you when you’ve gone too far. You might get in trouble sometimes, much like Tobey does, but the world knows better than you do about what your limits should be. Don’t let your brain limit your potential.

Best things in life are free

Tobey likes a handful of things in this world and most of them are absolutely free. He enjoys walks and he enjoys attention from me and my wife. To us, they’re free. To him, they cost “sits,” “stays,” “downs,” and “roll-overs,” but they don’t cost him anything tangible. Tobey loves walking around the neighborhood and smelling the wonderful smells. We have fox, deer, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, cats, and other dogs. Little doggy dude loves to smell and track them all… and those smells, all free!

For him, the best things in life require only obedience and that’s something he’s willing to pay. For people, it works the same way. For me, spending time with friends and family are give my life color and feeling. Building relationships doesn’t have to cost a penny, just time.

Take care of yourself

Tobey is a beagle so we have to routinely wash out his ears, as they are prone to ear infections (those floppy ears are great for catching water and capturing moisture). By washing out his ears twice a week, we can avoid painful ear infections and relatively expensive antibiotics and other remedies. Preventative care is much cheaper than prescriptive care, something our health insurance industry should take close note of!

Tobey is also seven and a half, which translated into human years puts him a couple years away from collecting a Social Security check (he’ll probably be the only one in our family to ever get that honor!). So, among other things, we must take great care in monitoring his weight and his general health because he’s not a young pup anymore. An extra pound for him, at 33 lb., is 3%! (6 lb. for a 200 lb. person!)

Show appreciation

Whenever one of us gets home, Tobey goes absolutely nuts. He starts barking in a very distinct way, his tail is wagging like crazy, and he’s running around in circles. He’s happy to see us and he wants you to know it!

Sometimes it’s important for us to do the same, to show appreciation on a more regular basis. Whether it’s writing a thoughtful note to a friend for being a friend or just saying thank you to someone who held the door open for you, a smile and a show of appreciation can brighten someone’s day. If you don’t do this, give it a try!

Be there for those you care for

I know that if everything goes into the crapper one day, my family will always be by my side – including the little critter Tobey. If I don’t feel well, he won’t shun me, he’ll still sit by me and make sure I’m OK (unfortunately he can’t make chicken soup, but my lovely wife can!). If I’m feeling kind of bored during the day, he’ll fetch his Kong toy all afternoon to keep me entertained.

Be that person for your friends and family. Be the person who will always be there, whether they’re in trouble or just need someone to talk to, and they will be there for you if you’re ever in a jam.

I only picked five lessons out of the many this little guy has taught me in such a short time, what lessons have you learned from your pets?