In celebration of International Dog Day, I’ve decided to put some of my more serious works in progress on hold to reflect on my time with my dog.
My Plott Hound, Lombardi, is quickly approaching his 10 year “Gotcha Day.” He has grown some gray hairs and slowed down a bit during this journey. However, the love and enthusiasm he shows everyday hasn’t suffered in the least. So, taking a moment to appreciate him feels appropriate.
While I can’t say that I will ever subscribe to his “ask for forgiveness, not permission” policy, he has contributed to my own growth and learning. I don’t always appreciate the lesson in the moment, as I reflect on the stories and the lessons, they seem worth sharing.
How to Share
I made a mouth-watering homemade strawberry cake with homemade strawberry frosting. My fiancé and I managed to each have a piece of it while still fresh and warm. As I returned from my internship the next day and turned my key in the lock, I was daydreaming about that cake. I couldn’t wait to eat more as soon as I kicked my shoes off and dropped my bag to the floor.
As I walked through the door, I saw the glass cake pan on the white kitchen floor, cake half-eaten.
On either side of the pan were our two cats, Johnny and Battlecat, happily helping themselves. Although I found them at the crime scene and not Lombardi, they were not capable of this heist on their own. Despite their disdain for him, Lombardi was generous enough to share the spoils with his two best frenemies.
You Can’t Control Others, Only Yourself
Lombardi did his best to amuse himself when we left for the day.
He often spent his time learning about us through the objects we used most-shoes and clothes. They smelled like us and told him about where we were and what we did when we weren’t home. His best learning was done, not by just sniffing, but by destroying these things. In an effort to preserve our clothes and shoes, we decided to crate train him.
It turned out that his passion for learning was so great that he could not be contained.
He managed to bend the metal of the crate, shred the black plastic liner and greet us at the door, shoe in mouth. After several evenings of this, we came to terms with the fact that we were not going to be able to keep him in a crate.
We had to control our own frustration and understand that we did not get to make the rules on this one.
Don’t Assume the Worst
Lombardi gets along with our cats and often plays with them. He could do some serious damage if he wanted to, but it never happens. It doesn’t always look like his intentions are playful, however. I’ve come into the room many times to find my little orange cat, Oliver, with his head in Lombardi’s mouth.
This results in me chasing Lombardi away, assuming he’s being too rough.
One day I hid around the corned and watched them. I watched this same cat fearlessly put his head right in Lombardi’s mouth and then pop his head back out and start biting Lombardi’s ears. I guess if he’s not worried, I don’t need to be.
I take Lombardi for lengthy walks every Sunday. I’m in it for the exercise, but Lombardi is in it for all of the smells along the way. Even though I have nowhere to be, many times I try to rush him along.
Then I stop to ask myself what the hurry is.
While he is stopping to sniff and learn, I can take the time to admire my surroundings and express gratitude for my health and that I get to take the time to do this every week.
It seems obvious, right? It’s not quite what you’re thinking.
This lesson is about waiting for the right moment to act instead of instant gratification.
We can’t leave the cat food within Lombardi’s reach because he will happily steal whatever the cats didn’t eat at the time. He knows that sometimes I forget to pick the bowls up though and he always knows when that happens. He also knows that if I see him move in that direction, I will immediately remember. So, he watches me closely and waits patiently. Once my back is turned, he strikes and manages to get a little extra dinner.