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Love Like a Dog

Let me drop you into a scene…

Stanley and I were in a long line of travel trailers waiting to start down a bumpy dusty road for a weekend with our airstream club at a ranch. Ruby, my loyal Rhodesian Ridgeback, followed me back into our trailer. While taking care of toilet business, my trailer began to rock and bounce like a rollercoaster. I had to brace myself on both walls of the tiny bathroom as my 70-pound dog cowered under my feet. After meandering and bumping along the two miles, Stanley found our camping spot and opened our trailer door. Who do you think was overjoyed to see Stanley? Well… it wasn’t me… A Cinda tornado blew out of that trailer and brewed a storm the whole weekend!

Why do I share this story? It’s because I believe dogs can be phenomenal teachers about gratitude, unconditional love, compassion, being present, and joy.

They can teach us much more if we pay attention:

  • Greet life and loved ones with enthusiasm

  • Don’t hold grudges, quick to forgive and forget

  • All heart, no ego

  • Live in the moment

  • Don’t need the most expensive bed, just love

  • Overcome fear with love

  • Play every day

  • Jump for joy when happy

  • Partners in sadness or hurt

  • Be yourself -- poodles don’t wish they were ridgebacks and retrievers don’t wish they had the body of a dachshund

  • Self-care -- Drink lots of water, good food, exercise, and ask for affection

  • Be loyal, trusting, and guarding of your loved ones

  • Dependent — dogs need us, we need them, we need each other

So how do we learn to love like a dog? Besides learning from loving and being loved by my own dogs, I took a big step forward in loving like a dog when I attended Discovery Programs in Austin, Texas. I have attended many training programs throughout my professional career but this one was very different and life changing. It is a program that gave me a safe space to look at what’s working (or not working) in my life and to gain new tools to meet life’s challenges. It is based on a process of answering straight forward questions. The volunteers were welcoming, respectful, and not judging which made me OK with dropping my protective walls.

During my Discovery journey I became aware of how long I can hold a grudge and how quickly I judge people--preferring to hang out with people like me. I learned to delight in the differences. It gave me a safe place to step out of my comfort zone and play, love, and live in the moment…. “like a dawg”.

So next time you are with a dog… pay attention… they have a lot to teach us about life and love.

- Cinda Brooks

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