What Your Dog Can Teach You About Enjoying Life

Roz Warren

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I recently treated myself to a massage. As my massage therapist began gently massaging my scalp — which felt absolutely wonderful — I realized something. This is what it felt like to be Captain!

Captain, the Yorkie-Poo I share with my sister, loves getting his head scratched. Now I knew why — this felt incredible! So utterly relaxing. So ridiculously pleasant.

I could have happily gotten my own head scratched for hours.

Which is exactly how Captain feels about it. Captain, at just five fluffy pounds, loves a good head massage. If your hand stops scratching his little noggin for more than a few seconds, he’ll poke at you gently with a paw until you resume.

Clearly, Captain knows how to live! In that moment, I decided that my new goal in life would be to be more like my dog.

So what exactly does this mean? I'll get more massages, that’s for sure. But it also means:

Relax!

I spend a lot of my time getting things done, whether it’s errands, housework or social obligations. Meanwhile, Captain is happily dozing the day away in a patch of sunlight. It’s not as if I’m about to stretch out on the floor in the sunshine myself, but I can spend less time being productive and a little more time napping on the sofa or relaxing with a good book.

Walk!

Captain never turns down the opportunity for a ramble through the neighborhood. Dogs know that going out the door is always an exciting adventure. The world is full of cool things to see and hear and smell. Of course, the smells that the two of us enjoy are very different. But we both love being out and about. The take home for me? When you’re not relaxing — move!

Enjoy Your Chow.

Captain never feels guilty about eating anything. Of course, if given an opportunity, he’ll eat himself sick. So I don’t want to go overboard with this one. But to thoroughly enjoy every bite of my own dinner? I can do that.

Play!

If Captain can’t interest one of us in a game of “Yorkie-poo in the middle” or “Which hand is holding the treat?” he’ll bat a piece of kibble across the room and then chase it down, just for the fun of it. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. My writing is published everywhere and my career as a writing coach has flourished. But how much time do I spend just unproductively goofing off? Not enough!

Treats are great.

When you offer Captain a treat, he never turns it down, with “I don’t deserve this.” He enjoys it thoroughly, then looks around for more. Treats make life fun. However you define them — from freshly baked cookies to binge-watching Doctor Who — grab as many as you can.

Appreciate Your Loved Ones

When I come in the door, Captain is there to greet me, tail wagging. The clear message? “I’m thrilled that you’re here.” I can’t wag, but I can appreciate my loved ones and always make sure they know how much they mean to me.

Live in the Moment.

Captain, at 12, is starting to head toward the end of his life span, just as I, at 66 am starting to head toward mine. The difference between us? He has no awareness of his own mortality and so never gives it a thought. Unlike Captain, I know I won’t last forever. But, like my dog, I can choose to fully enjoy the moment rather than fret about the future.

Life Is to Enjoy

Captain’s purpose is simple — to enjoy life and be a good dog. Going forward, I plan to get in touch with my inner Yorkie-poo. I will enjoy life and be a good person.

Wish me luck!

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at roSwarren@gmail.com.

Bala Cynwyd, PA
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