Of the many, many gifts our dogs give humans, perhaps one of the greatest is the anchor they provide to reality. In the day of social media, endless news cycles, and the internet wormhole, it’s easy to get swept away by an overstimulation of the mind. We can get caught up in a million different micro-dramas and before we know it we’re disoriented, uncomfortable, and ungrounded. It can be hard for us to remember that our lives are happening here and now, not on a computer or phone screen, but in our homes, communities, and in our bodies. Our dogs can help us find this connection.
For starters, our dogs could give a crap about what’s happening on Instagram. They don’t care who is wearing what, or who said what about who. They really only care about a handful of things:
- Am I safe?
- Are my needs met?
- Do I have a purpose?
In this way, our dogs show us what really matters in life. Just as we wish to be fulfilled, so do our dogs. Our dogs just happen to see a more direct path to fulfillment, and there’s great wisdom in this simplicity.
If you’re a parent, what is more fulfilling? An hour spent on your computer? Or an hour spent playing with your kids? EXACTLY. Yes, we love to work, we love to achieve, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we need to remember what’s actually important, and eliminate distractions (hint: your kids/dogs etc are NOT the distraction). There’s no reason why your daily walk with your dog can’t be every bit as fulfilling as anything else in life. We just need to pay attention. Some might call this mindfulness, I call it being present.
When you’re fully present you can connect on a very deep level, one that gives life purpose and value. It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning up dog poop or playing the guitar. Your ability to focus on one thing at a time makes all of the difference in the world. Try this out: Take a deep breath in. Good. Now take a deep breath out. Can you see how even just breathing can be a source of great connection and joy? You’re ALIVE! Start acting like it!
There’s the old adage along the lines of “how you spend your day is how you spend your life.” Our dogs, with their preciously short lives, teach us just how true this really is. If we are truly present, we will have a deep, meaningful connection. When our dogs eventually pass on, we will be able to let go peacefully, knowing that we truly made the best of our time together.