Children are a blessing, but pets are easier to train and don’t talk back.
I know Valentine’s Day is traditionally for our human heartthrobs, but in honor of this Valentine’s Day, I’m thanking my barking buddies for everything they do to keep me centered and creative. I have two dogs, both Potcakes. Both weaseled themselves into my heart and home, and they are an endless source of joy, annoyance and stray hair. As an aside, If I ever decide to venture into textile art, I would have all the raw materials literally free for the asking!
The nice thing is though, in exchange for a safe and loving home, these dogs give me so much more than just a vacuum cleaner bag full of fur. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from my dogs that make me appreciate them every day of the year.
1. Always Try To Chase Lizards
Both of my dogs love to chase lizards. Every time the patio doors are opened, they stand there like horses at the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby. In 2014, they caught a grand total of one lizard. When this happened, the dog who did so seemed thoroughly confused as to why the lizard had stopped running. That’s when I had an epiphany. The game wasn’t about catching a lizard. This was a game of chase the lizard. My takeaway: the joy is in the pursuit. Chase your target with complete energy and enthusiasm because sometimes fulfillment isn’t in achieving your goal - it’s in the chase itself. And, oh… maintain your enthusiasm despite the odds.
2. Love Unconditionally
Boy, do they ever! They’re happy dogs, and they make me happy. But isn’t the greatest thing about our animal friends the fact that even when we’re at our worst, they’re still there for us? They have no idea what it means to hold a grudge or give the cold shoulder. On days when I’m too busy or preoccupied to give them the never-ending back scratches they crave, they just wait patiently until I can. So I try to do the same for others in my life. I’m not advocating being made to feel taken for granted or used, but you must admit, there are times when we are too quick to feel slighted rather than being just as quick to give someone a pass for maybe having a bad day, going through stress, or having some unseen pain in their lives. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone is to just give them space and let them know we’re there when they need us.
3. Ask…You May Receive
If you spent your early school years in The Bahamas, you’re probably familiar with the phrase “Gimme, Gimme never get!.” You learn it early on as a sort of insurance/excuse not to share something scrumptious that you have and your friends want a bit of. My dogs know nothing about that. They’re not bound by the rules of etiquette so even after they’ve been told ‘no’ a thousand times, they will STILL give you the laser-eye stare-down when you’re trying to eat anything other than a salad. They know not to whine and beg, but they will try to stare that food out of your plate. They firmly believe that one day it will work. The lesson: be persistent. Be shamelessly persistent. But don’t beg.
4. Hang Out With Friends
Seeing them frolic and play together is priceless. Most of us can get bogged down in our work or projects and forget to maintain balance in our lives. These Potcakes are a great reminder that everyone needs to hang with friends sometimes. It refreshes our outlook and recharges us for when we do return to the tasks that await us.
5. Sleep In The Shade or Bask In The Sun
Again a great reminder when it comes to maintaining balance. There’s no right or wrong here. Some days they’re quite happy to curl up and snooze inside, while other days they can’t wait to stretch out fully in the warmth of the sun. So whatever you choose to do, remember to make time to rest!
6. Let Your Voice Be Heard... Somebody Will Open A Door For You
Do I need to explain? No matter the time, if they want (or need) to go outside, they will let me know. Loudly. Persistently. Until a door is opened. Sometimes our needs go unmet because we don’t voice them. Be a potcake. Just bark.
7. Make Wherever You Are, Home
Probably the most important lesson of all. For them, it meant they made my house home - both moved from neighbour’s houses to ‘adopt’ me and my family. For whatever reason, they knew what they wanted and made it theirs. Through sheer adorable persistence, they changed their less-than-ideal situations and made me love them. A good lesson to remember when we are going through a ’season’ of challenge in our own lives. Sometimes the challenge is for us to show our endurance, and sometimes the challenge is for us to change our circumstances. We can only decide which when we are fully engaged in our lives and embrace our role as creators of our own contentment. In my belief, this can only be best done through love. Love for ourselves and love for all around us. Which brings me full circle back to Valentine’s Day.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to send a loving gift to the Grand Bahama Humane Society which is so desperately underfunded at the moment, they are in danger of closing their doors. I hope you will consider doing the same, if not for them, then for the charity of your choice.
To my two best buds who keep my creativity flowing: Happy Valentine’s Day, Dini and HomeBoy! Sit! Stay! Oh. Never mind.