How my dog transformed me

Dogs are brilliant teachers if you’re willing to listen to their lessons

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Life teaches us lessons at every turn and even in surprising moments. Today (Aug. 26) is National Dog Day and it’s no exception. So it’s a good day to share with you how my dog transformed me.

As a life coach I’m used to training other people, but some of the biggest lessons come from my own life. This is the the story about a badly behaved dog and how I learned to love her…

Two years ago, my husband wanted a dog for Christmas. He whined and complained like a two year old about it for weeks. So while we had just moved into a new house and had a young baby, I gave in.

I searched for an entire month and found the perfect dog for our family. His name is Lt. General Battles and he is 120 lbs of love. He’s a gentle giant. He is sweet well-trained and quite a genius. We love him and have never met anyone who doesn’t. He’s a rockstar of a dog.

Lt. General Battles and I

Lt. General Battles and I enjoying each other’s company in the dog park near our home.

The day we picked up Battles from the humane society we saw a sad hound mix lying sadly in a cage next to him. Our heart ached for her and we couldn’t leave her. So, we adopted two dogs that day, Battles and Gracie.

I’ve loved Battles from day one. To me, he is perfect.

Gracie, well, she’s a bit of nutcase. She doesn’t listen, she has accidents in the house from time to time, she tears up our furniture. Gracie is a nervous wreck. And we’ve tried many things to help the poor thing to no avail.

Gracie the hound mix.

Gracie the hound mix.

I’d like to love her like I love Battles, but man, this dog makes it really hard.

How my dog transformed me

Then, the other night something happened that was transformational for me and for my relationship with her. I looked at Gracie and had the following series of thoughts…

Geez Gracie, why do you have to be such a dumbass? You make it so hard for me to love you. I’d like to, but you’re such an idiot. 

Well, she’s not really an idiot, she’s just a dog.

And, she’s been through a lot of hurt. In her past, people were really mean to her. 

It makes sense that she’s fearful and nervous and has accidents. It makes sense that she has trouble being loving with people. 

Poor thing.

Wow, she kind of reminds me of me.

I was hurt in the past by people when I was a kid. And while I’ve gotten over it, I still have trouble sometimes. I can still be stingy with my love for other people. Sometimes I avoid getting too close to others out of a fear of being hurt by them. 

And, I thought to myself:

I’ve been stingy loving her because she’s not perfect. It’s the same thing I’ve gotten mad at people in my past for doing to me.

I haven’t given her the unconditional love she deserves. So she’s not perfect. Battles really isn’t either. No one is perfect. No dog. No human.

What if I just loved her and loved everyone regardless of what they do or don’t do. Love Gracie and others unconditionally like I love my young son. It’s like people need to meet certain “measures” to gain my love. 

If I’m doing it to my dog, who else am I doing this to?

How I transformed my dog

From that moment, I committed to shifting this in myself.  A good life coach is always looking at what’s missing. I’ve decided to make an effort to be loving with Gracie and with people in my life. To make an effort to be compassionate and kinder with strangers, even.

Since this revelation, Gracie and I have connected. She comes to me for pets and attention. She never did that before. The other night I let her up on couch even and we cuddled.

I know that as I continue to make progress with her I’ll give her a real chance to understand that humans are really loving and not to be feared, that she doesn’t need to be nervous. I also give myself a chance to open up my heart more with not just her but other people.

What is your dog trying to teach you?

And so, since it’s National Dog Day, here is the takeaway: There is so much to learn in every moment of life, including from our dogs.

What is your dog trying to teach you?

Perhaps, it’s to relax and take it easy. Maybe it’s to have more fun. Or, maybe it’s to open your heart and love unconditionally.

Today take a moment to ponder: What is your dog trying to teach you? And see what the answer is!

And, if you haven’t already, join the coolest free club on the web dedicated to your greatest: Join Awesome Life Club.

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