How my dog teaches me to live better

Cynthia Bord

I got my golden retriever for my birthday 3 years ago. When I first met him, I could hold his small, fluffy body up and walk around my college campus with him. Now he’s about 90 pounds and uses his weight against me when I try to pick him up.

In quarantine, I interact with him as much as my other family members. On the surface, he’s the family dog who’s everyone’s best friend. But looking at his behavior as a series of patterns, we can easily see how my dog can teach everyone to be a better person.

He gives (affection and love) without expecting anything back.

In every networking article or book I’ve read, the author always asks the reader “What can YOU offer?”. Which is good — if it was asking how you can make the world around you better. But the implication is that you’ll get something in return. And not just that- but to expect something in return. You offer someone something they want and you get what they can offer in return. It’s nothing short of a transaction.

My dog always showers me with affection and tail wags. It’s his way of showing me that he’s happy to see me. He doesn’t expect belly rubs in response, but I give it to him anyway.

Give, without expecting something in return. This is often when good things come when you least expect them.

Leave, if you don’t want it.

My dog never sticks around after you give him a snack. Unless he likes you and wants to sleep/rest where you are. I was disappointed when he would take his snack and skip off to wherever he wanted to have his snack but I’ve grown to live with it. I have to remind myself that my golden retriever is a living being and he has his own likes/dislikes too, even though I’d prefer he spent more time where I was.

He doesn’t stick around a place he doesn’t want to be to see if he might grow to like it. He just walks out. And I understand. He’s an autonomous being with his own thoughts and wants.

If you don’t like a situation, place, or activity — just leave. Don’t think too much about it. You’ll be more comfortable and happy that way. Others around you will understand, or learn to.

Smile freely.

My dog smiles all the time, even at times that don’t warrant it. But that’s the problem — smiling is just an action. It doesn’t need to have a second thought attached to it to justify why you should or shouldn’t do it. Just do it. Smiling doesn’t just put others around you into an easier mood, but the vibe that you create will come back and give you less room to stress
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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writer on love, tech, and politics, lover of coffee and petter of dogs

New York, NY

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