On May 17, 2016, I went to my local dog shelter to adopt Miss Farfel.
She’s a sweet and lovely Yorkie Terrier with three legs (she is missing her right hind leg) and a built-in resiliency so strong it would shock anyone who noticed her. As soon as I laid eyes on her six years ago, I knew she would be ours.
Little did I know, this gorgeous canine would virtually turn our worlds upside down. The thrills, the absolute joy, the surgeries, the tears…all worth it, I can tell you.
This dog has lived with me for six tumultuous years. She has been through the wringer, and so have I. Incredibly, she has taught me more lessons than I can count.
Here are the six that she continues to teach me about being a kind and decent human being:
1. Always give people the benefit of the doubt.
We are so quick to judge as a species, aren’t we? What if we just allowed others to show us that they mean what they say? We have to practice more compassion.
Dogs do this naturally. Why can’t we?
2. Be respectful of other people’s space.
I love how dogs know exactly what they need—sometimes a kiss and cuddle will do, and other times, being alone is the best medicine. But human beings don’t always take cues or subtle hints from others. Be more mindful of other people’s space and try to always be kind.
3. Patience is a virtue.
We can all take a hint from canines—they constantly remind us that patience will get you everything you desire. Human beings aren’t wired the same way. But we must be aware of our reactions and behaviors when we don’t get what we want/need.
It’s a trite statement, but it’s so true. Having more patience will get us so far.
4. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
This one’s all about give and take. Even with my sweet Yorkie Terrier, the love I give to her naturally and unconditionally radiates back to me in spades. I feed her food, give her shelter, play with her, nuzzle her, and she lovingly gazes at me. That’s all I need. She feeds my spirit and elevates my mood every single day.
5. Be a reliable and trustworthy mate.
My dog depends on me, and I show her how dependable and loyal I am by being with her and caring for her needs. She mirrors everything right back to me—and I feel safe knowing that she’s in a loving environment that encourages her to thrive and be herself. She trusts me and relies on me for her welfare.
6. Love hard without explanation or justification.
I wish there was more love in the world. No bickering, no squabbling, no screaming.
I wish we could all be like canines and just love people more—much, much more. I wish loving hard meant that we could love anyone we want, and it wouldn’t scare people away. I wish loving hard meant that it was more than okay to feel deeply and honestly.
Dogs teach us to love hard. And deep down, we all want to love hard and be loved hard back. Don’t we?
I hope these six lessons resonated with you, and may you always have love in your heart, kindness in your soul, and be a decent human being.
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