Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dog As Teacher

As I sit here at the computer, I am joined by my two companions, Rory and Fiona. For those of you who haven't met them, they are my three-year-old Scottish Terriers, or as Aunt Katherine says, Scottish Terrorists. If you have ever shared a home with a terrier of any sort, you understand the jest. Terriers are nothing if not tenacious. I am amazed by what I learn from them each day.

I’ve been blessed by several canine companions over the years. Five of them have been Cairn Terriers, and one Husky/Shepherd mix. All of them have had very distinct personalities, some more lovable than others. My last Cairn, Meggie, who died after 16 good years, really believed she was a princess. Everyone called her that, so she must have been correct.

It was Heyoka, my mutt, who easily captured everyone’s heart and made them smile. He absolutely loved every second of life even though he’d been abandoned and left in the streets. Once he found his way to my secure home, he blossomed into the dog who taught me the most about love and loving life.

Each morning, he stood next to the bed wagging his tail, as if to say, “Happy to me, it’s a new day!” He’d hurry to the kitchen for a treat and his morning stroll in the yard. That was the start of his day for years. Even when it was hard as he got older, or when recovering from a painful surgery, he still wagged his tale and seemed grateful for the day. He was an uncomplicated dog with small needs and a huge sense of well being and joy. He gave me a great deal of comfort during the lonely times of my life. I miss his doggy smile and his adoring presence!

All of my dogs possess the one virtue that I lack- patience. You might have guessed that from my rant about English! Although I am much better now than I used to be, patience is still not mine. It’s been said that, “Patience is a virtue acquired by habit.” So, I’ve attempted to acquire the habit of being patient. Watching my animals, sometimes I think I’m on the verge of understanding it more. Dogs don’t practice patience, they just have it.

Thanks to Fiona and Rory, I think I might have some deeper insight to the patience thing. The other day their walk was suddenly canceled when I had to take an important call. They waited hopefully for a minute or two and then, with leashes still on, laid down and took a nap. That’s when it hit me; I’ve been going about it the wrong way! You can’t acquire patience by doing anything. You can’t practice it until it’s a habit. Patience is the outcome of learning to live life with acceptance.

My dogs accept that they will get fed when I get to it. They accept that they can stay out in the yard for as long as I wish to be out there to watch them. They accept that they only go for a walk when I am ready to take them. They accept that it’s time for bed when I turn out the lights. And, it’s all right by them. Because they are so accommodating, I go out of my way to keep them on a usual routine, treat them with love, and do things they like.

So, instead of patience, I think I’ll start practicing acceptance. I’ll accept my day as it comes. Accept that people will not always do what I think they should. Accept that every situation will not come out as I’d wish. Along with it, I need a sense of hope so that each moment I always expect the best. Joy needs to be in that recipe, too. Joy in simple things like a drink of fresh cool water or my favorite snack. And, walks with the person I love most in the world. If I live in acceptance from moment to moment, I will be patient with things as they unfold. And, I will be patient with myself and those in my life.

But, for now I have to go. My two teachers are stretching and looking at me with hopeful expressions that say clearly, “It’s time for dinner, oh joy!”

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Mommer


MelissaS said...

I was not born with the patience gene either! Since I was a little kid, my father has attempted to teach me patience. It never stuck.

Acceptance... we'll see about that!

Anonymous said...

I learn so much from my pets, both dogs and cats and they are just fascinating to watch. We've been watching my son's dog (11 lb Japanese Chin)while he's at work during the day, we have an Irish Setter, Suki Suki follows Rusty (can you guess whose who) around everywhere, Rusty has even taken Suki to the top of the two-tier garden where Suki can't get down after he's up there. I think Rusty knows this because every day, he takes him there and then runs off...poor Suki barks and barks (you can bearly hear him) until a kind human (like myself) will go out and help him down. Rusty gives me a look as to say, once you turn your back, I'm going back up to the top of the garden...and he knows Suki Suki will follow. As for patience, I've stop going fishing with my husband, does that tell you anything?

Anonymous said...

Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself.

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