Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The ten things I have learnt from my dog...

It's been almost a year and a half since we have had our dog Nico. He has now become a part of the family in every sense of the word and neither my daughter nor I could imagine him not being around.
Was thinking just how much I have learnt from him over the past year - and strangely how much these lessons seem applicable to interpersonal relationships, platonic or otherwise. Of course not for a moment implying that as a dog he has the same faculties as us humans, rather am just noting the things I have learnt, or in some cases have been reminded of.
  1. A new day is a new opportunity : I almost find it enviable that for Nico everyday appears to be a new day. Wouldn't it be great to awake afresh and rejuvinated for the day ahead, despite what happened the day, or a month, or a year before? I guess the lesson for me is don't dwell on what has happened, concentrate on what you can do;
  2. Routines don't have to be oppresive: As soon as I open my bedroom door, he gets up, stretches, licks my toes and stumbles sleepily after me into the kitchen and wait as I fix my first cup of coffee. As someone who always shies away from the regular things, its nice to know that routines can be cool as well;
  3. Sometimes a hug is all that is needed : There are times when I don't want to talk, I don't want to share, I don't want to dicuss, but yes I need just a sign to say from someone else that 'hey, it's okay, I understand'. I know when my daughter asks me for a hug out of the blue that something may be happening but at that point in time all she needs is just that sign from me. I kid you not, Nico will hug you. Interestingly, he always seems to do it at the right times - do dogs sense moods? If you are sitting, he will come over, put his head on your knee and his paws somewhere on your leg and will stay like that either until he has figured you have had enough, or you send him away. Lately, he has also taken to doing this while you are standing as well. The first time we saw this we actually thought it was coincidental, but lately he has been doing it so much we think he actually does know what he is doing.
  4. Dancing is a state of mind, not a competence: my daughter is always asking me to show her how to dance. You can imagine my surprise one day when she came home to say 'Mommy, I want to know how to dance Jamaican'. Of course dancing Jamaican and what it is to dance Jamaican can perhaps take up a whole other post. Being a good Mom, I rose to the occasion and showed her a couple moves. We always seem to be dancing in the house. For Nico dancing is really a state of mind, put on some music and he will get up on his hind legs and will clap his paws while jumping around. Failing that he rolls around on the floor - break dancing maybe? It doesn't matter is no one else is dancing, bottom line is it seems to make him happy and he just loves to. Its not about the latest moves, its just about making one's self happy;
  5. Being welcomed and wanted is a nice feeling: We tend to take too many things for granted. We expect to leave home in the mornings, go to school and or work, get home in the evenings, watch TV and start the day all over again. We loose the excitement of seeing those we expect to always be there. Nico literally pees himself in excitement when we get home - granted I am certainly not advocating for that to be any one's modus operandi. Once we are in he dashes about in absolute ecstasy - he will bring his toys to show us, and will refuse to leave us just in case we may disappear again. It really doesn't hurt to make someone know that they are wanted or welcomed or thought about.
  6. Sometimes its the little things that count - every morning without fail he licks my toes! Just one brief lick to say good morning. It's as regular as my morning coffee and just as relaxing. Funny how its the little things - rather than the big ones - that make is feel special;
  7. Forgiveness is easy: Forgiving and forgetting is still one of the hardest things for me. Letting go and just accepting is like pulling teeth. Ssometimes we will have to discipline Nico for something he's done, e.g. free ranging in the wrong place. Of course after wards he will slink off in a corner, but you are guaranteed that in a couple mins he will be back. Usually sitting a meter or less away, with his paw outstretched (he knows how to shake paws). Accepting his paw will then have him rubbing and rolling on your feet for the next couple mins. He understands, has apologised and things are back to normal;
  8. Don't judge a book by it's cover: Nico accepts everyone that comes to the house. No selective screening based on material or other things. He accepts you for you. A sniff or two and it's ok for you to be there until you do something that changes all that. A sure guarantee is to trouble my daughter - he is even more protective of her than I am;
  9. Sometimes its ok just to chill: open the gate and he will dash out like a mad-man, or rather a mad-dog. Many a mornings have been spent just trying to get him back inside. But there are other mornings he will just sit, and watch and chill. I guess we don't have to be rushing around all the while, sometimes its ok just to chill and watch the world go by;
  10. There is no such thing as too much patience: Potty training a dog is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. In the absence of words conveying what is needed often times demands a lot of patience, a virtue we seem always to be short of these days. Things do take time and sometime one just needs to be patient.
So there. These are the things I have been reminded of through Nico.
Well that and having a good tummy rub is always a nice end to an incredibly long day!


Anonymous said...

I love it!

posekyere said...


I really admire your gift for narration: smooth, relaxing and captivating.
You make it look so serene and effortless.
You definitely must try your hands on writing a novel or two.
Your dog's story is so similar to a movie I saw just this week.

Denise said...

Thanks Anonymous for popping by.

Denise said...

Thanks Posekyere - was the movie by any chance Marley and Me? I haven't watched the movie - yet - but thoroughly enjoyed the book. A friend of mine actually got it for my daughter when we got Nico. Luckily Nico is so little he causes less damage.