My Dog on Life
My six year-old Yellow Labrador, Salem, is a joy to be around. He loves to have fun, sleeps when he is tired and knows how to get what he wants. He is one of the smartest and focused living beings that I am around on a regular basis. Snicker, no I am not held up in my house my house 24/7.
Here is what I have learned from Salem about loving life:
Focus on what you want. If you get distracted stare, stare again. Salem uses this technique when he wants his Kong (think toy with peanut butter in it). We have to hide it from him or he stares at it until we give it to him. What he knows is that if you focus on something long enough, someone will pay attention to what you are focused on and they will get involved. In this case, we give Salem his Kong with peanut butter. When working with others, focus helps you stay on track to achieving your goal.
Point in the Direction You Want to Go
There are plenty of things to distract us in this world. Sometimes Salem cannot stay away from that special scent on the ground or in the air. What he consistently does is points his head to what he wants or his head where he wants to go. We keep Salem’s treat on top of the refrigerator. When he is in the kitchen, he points his head at the top of the refrigerator, as if “asking” for a treat. When he wants to go outside, he faces the door.
Listen intently to what people are saying. When I have a conversation with someone and Salem is present, he looks at the person who is speaking. If you speak directly to him he immediately turns around and looks you in the eye, perks his ears up and listens. Communication is required when working together. It might be sign language, interpreted, Spanish or English, the form does not matter, the content matters. Perk up your ears.
Stay Away from Bad Things
We all know what is good for us. We should stay fixated on what is good for us but sometimes we get distracted. For Salem, troll yard ordiments are bad. He does not like them. He growls at them, never goes too close and sometimes even stares them down as to assume power over these bad objects. The lesson here is to recognize what is unhealthy for you, and to stay away.
Take Breaks to Rest
Do you always have the energy to do everything that you want to do? Salem does. He has perfected the art of rest and play. When you pet Salem his tail wags and often his entire body wiggles. If you pick up a toy, he is ready to play. He also rests, usually in the middle of the floor. He even snores loudly when sleeping on “his” futon. He always has enough energy to do what he wants. He doesn’t seem to worry about taking care of himself, he just does it. This attitude apparently works because he is always prepared for the best that can happen.
Go With the Flow
Sometimes Salem walks in the morning, sometimes we run in the evening. Whatever the event, Salem is there, ready to go with all the energy in the world. At the same time, sometimes plans change at the last minute. Although he is known for looking sad sometimes, he is generally okay with anything that comes his way.
Spread the Joy
Salem is very communicative. He does not bark so much as make noises to get your attention and make you smile and/or pet him. He also seems to monitor how much work I do. Every hour or so, he checks in with a little nudge on the arm with his tail wagging as if to say, Shanon, are you having fun? I’ve noticed when I’m doing what I love he leaves me alone. When I’m struggling with something, he reinforces his “it’s time for a break” nudge.
If Salem could speak, he might have more to say. In the meantime, I thought by sharing a bit of Salem’s life I might help share his joy. So remember, if you want to love your life, act like Salem and focus, point in the direction you want to do, stay away from bad things, take breaks to rest, go with the flow and spread the joy.