Dogs are not just companions and friends. They can teach you so many lessons that help you lead a happier life – if you would only care to learn them.
Here are some of them:
You come home after a long day and the first person to greet you is your dog who shows such extreme happiness that you immediately feel better. Imagine if you greeted your family members like that – how good all of you would feel. Imagine if you gave everyone you met a warm welcome and made them feel as if they were the most important people in the world. You would have the world at your feet. We are glad to see dogs because they are glad to see us. Whether we left the house five hours ago or five minutes ago, they are over-the-moon thrilled to be reunited with us. In our human-to-human interactions we frequently fail to let those close to us know how much we care for them. I like you, you make me happy – a simple thought like this can make a friend forever.
Dogs are non judgemental. They love you whether you are the richest person on earth or a drug addicted vagrant living under a bridge. One of the reasons why celebrities keep dogs is because they are extremely insecure about their current friends. If you were to show unconditional, honest affection without judgement, you would go a long way as well. Treat your loved ones even better than they deserve and they will turn into the people you need them to be. The boost I get from my dog's adoration reminds me to give that gift to others.
Have you ever stepped on your dogs’ paw, smacked them for some minor transgression, yelled at them because they came to be scratched and you were busy, or told them to get out of the room because you had guests? They look at you all sad eyed and unhappy, and then five minutes later when you are nice to them they are all sunshine again, all grudges forgotten. I have a dog called Devi who is so overeager in her affection and so possessive that I often get very cross with her. She takes it for as long as she can and then one day stops eating her food till I pat her and then everything is alright again. Learn to forgive and forget. Carrying anger or pain in your heart will not make anything better.
A dog lives each day as if it is his last. He loves, cuddles, eats, plays, guards, works, fights, exercises, sleeps with enthusiasm and determination He savours every single day and finds new ways to amuse himself. See if you can do the same. You have a short life. Enjoy every bit of it, including the bad parts.
Go for walks and enjoy them. You can take a dog on the same route every day and every single day he will get as enthusiastic and walk along as if he has just discovered the world. Instead of "Oh, no! Not the same walk, with the same companion, and meeting the same set of acquaintances! It's so boring! Can't we do something different?" If you were as eager, you would be a lot fitter and far more aware of the earth.
Take a nap whenever you can. Dogs fall asleep at the drop of a hat and are instantly alert within seconds. If you learnt to take short naps, your brain would be working better as well. This artificial construct of having to be awake the entire day and asleep the entire night is not good for your body or mind. Life has to be taken a few hours at a time. You can only fall asleep if you are relaxed, so, no matter what the situation, it is not going to get better if you tense up. So relax.
Be a hero every chance you can get. Save people from impossible situations, care for the weak, stand up for those who need rescuing, protect the helpless. Even if you are physically a Chihuahua, you can defeat the odds by the sheer size of your courage. A story goes that when Alexander was overwhelmed by the army of Persia’s Darius III in 333 BC during the battle of Gaugamela, his dog Peritas leapt up and bit the lip of an elephant leading a charge against his master. The elephant reared up and the tide changed. Alexander went on to conquer half the world and earn the epithet The Great.
How can you tell who loves you more; your wife or your dog? Lock them both in the trunk of your car for three hours and see who kisses you when you open the trunk. It’s always more fun to give than take, love than be loved. So love unconditionally – instead of making deals with other people and trading emotions like commodities (He is mean so I won’t talk , my mother loves my sister more so I will love her less…). Be in love with the idea of love and see what fun you have.
Everyday you give your dog the same food and everyday he looks forward to it. He doesn’t complain. Food may be important to him but not so important that would act as a mood changer. Contrast that with the endless complaining you or your family does on the quality and variety of food. Eat to live not live to eat.
Show love in big and small ways. From laying their heads on our laps while we watch a movie to barking wildly and running in circles when we take them out, dogs let us know we are loved every single day. Why not be more demonstrative?
There are so many other animals we keep as pets: cats, hamsters, rabbits, fish, mice. Why is the dog considered man’s best friend and not the others? Logically we should consider monkeys and apes, who are genetically so close to us, as our best friends. Why the dog? Perhaps the give and take in our relationship, the lessons the dog teaches us on living life makes the dog indispensable to us.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
*Proper wildlife rehabilitation is an extremely biologically and ecologically responsible attitude toward all living things.*