Lessons From Leo

Recently, while at home for a few sick days with just my dog, Leo, I realized I could learn a lot from him.  If you have a dog or are just a dog lover, you’ve already experienced how they seem to intuitively know when something is wrong, and they want nothing but to comfort you any way they can. I’m not sure as humans with our busy lives and focus on ourselves, we are always as good at this.

Some more lessons I learned from Leo:

Be excited about the simple things in life. 

Every time I take out the leash my dog jumps almost to the ceiling with happiness about the upcoming walk. We have been doing this every day, three times a day for the past five years, and every single time he is beyond excited as if it is the first time he’s ever been outside. There is potential to see the extraordinary in the ordinary things we do every day, if we could just get a little excited about them.

Always be present. 

Dogs are always thrilled to be in your company and are usually paying full attention to you. (Unless, of course, it’s dinner time, which is understandable, and they come right back after they wolf down their food.) People need each other to show up no matter what is going on, to pay attention, to listen and to be present every day.

Don’t judge.

Dogs always see the best in us. They don’t hold grudges or remember when you yelled at them, yanked their leash too hard or forgot to feed them. They give you slack when you make a mistake, lose patience, or are just plain cranky. They know it’s not about them and then don’t take it personally or withhold love from you because of it.

Have more fun.

Leo never saw a squeaky toy he didn’t like. As soon as he hears it, his ears go up and he’s ready to run, jump, roll around and have the best time ever. It makes me laugh, even when I’m not feeling great. Joy and laughter don’t have to come from anything special or fancy. How great would it be if it were that easy for us to lighten up and have more fun?

Be real.

Dogs don’t fake anything. It is what it is. You know when they like you and when they don’t, when they’re happy and when they’re sad, and definitely when they’re hungry. Social media can give a story of someone else’s life that we compare to our own and feel bad about it, even though a lot of what we are seeing is exaggerated or even completely fake. Remember, people rarely post about the shitty stuff. Don’t be afraid to be who you really are, no one is perfect IRL. 

If you’re not a dog person, you probably get the same lessons from other types of pets. Sometimes, the greatest teachers of humanity are not actually human.