My crooked-eared dog is smarter than me.
Before her second birthday, Cholula’s had the secrets to simple happiness figured out already.
A dog’s life is pretty fabulous, at least in this household.
Cholula’s toy box is overflowing with squeaky, furry things and ragged tennis balls. She prefers to sit shotgun on road trips, or in my lap (she weighs 50 pounds). She freely hogs the best part of the bed. She offers her skills as taste-tester when I’m cooking, under my feet with one ear cocked.
She fully expects to be a part of any adventure we embark upon— and 90% of the time, she is.
Cholula’s part of the family, one of us. We are a pack, and she knows it.
Spoiled? Maybe. Loved? No question.
Half German Shepherd and half Chocolate Lab, Cholula’s the perfect combination of sweet and smart. Sure, she’s just a dog— but I’m convinced that the lessons I’ve learned from her could benefit just about anyone.
1. Every day is a new beginning.
Dogs don’t hold grudges from last year—or even yesterday. Cholula happily forgets when I run out of time for a trip to the dog pond with her. She wakes up ready for adventure, with a wagging tail and boundless energy, even without coffee.
2. Stretching is good for you.
The very first thing Cholula does when she gets out of (our) bed is stretch into a good and deep downward dog move with a little “Wow, that feels good” groan. If she’s been down for a while, she follows that up with a hip flexor thing, sometimes kicking one leg out for the extra stretch. Then, she’s ready for the day and any activity it might hold.
3. Be yourself.
Sure, when she’s done something wrong, Cholula might slink toward us shyly trying to look adorable. But dogs don’t know how to be anything but real. They don’t struggle with self-acceptance. If they are happy, they show it. If they’re annoyed, you know it. Cholula’s many quirks are endearing and make us love her more.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of a nap.
When Cholula is tired, she stops. Instead of trudging through the day groggily, she’ll just lie down and recharge with a power nap. When she wakes up, she’s present and cheerful.
5. Patience pays off.
Cholula will sit still while watching me scurry around the kitchen, wistfully and intently watching as I transfer bacon from the pan to a plate. She’s willing me to drop a piece for her. Or, she’ll perch herself next to my desk chair as I type away with her squeaky fox in her mouth watching me work but, hoping for attention. She knows that if she just sits there long enough, I’ll cave. I always do. Good things come to those who wait.
6. Exercise should be fun.
No matter how many times I throw that tennis ball into the water, Cholula always musters the energy to dive in after it— and comes back to me, panting, wagging, begging for more. Exercise for her isn’t an obligation, it’s a pleasure.
7. Always sneak in one more snuzzle.
We call them sniper kisses and Cholula is a pro. I’m amazed at how important physical attention is to her— she’ll always go in for just one more blissful belly rub, one more sigh-inducing ear massage. She greedily enjoys as much affection as we’ll give and returns the favor.
8. When you love someone, make sure they know it.
She hates when we’re gone and cries with joy when we return. She wags when we enter a room. She follows us around the house, parking herself near us when we land. She lays her ears back sweetly and scoots in for a good morning cuddle the moment we open our eyes. We never question Cholula’s feelings for us.
Love should be obvious and complete.
Not every dog gets the royal treatment like our little princess. But behind those sweet brown eyes there’s a wisdom we can all learn from. Life is about simple joys, healthy activities, occasional treats, and unabashed love.
Wag more. Bark less.
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Asst. Ed.: Kathleen O’Hagan/Ed: Bryonie Wise