Tasha is a hyperactive, intelligent, loving Australian Shepard mix who came into our lives almost eight months ago. She isn’t the first dog who has worked her way into my heart, but she’s made a tremendous impact on my life and the way I live it. Her boundless energy and capacity for getting in trouble has exasperated me, amused me, and inspired me. She’s taught me so much in the few short months she’s been part of our family. These are just a few of the things I’ve learned from my dog:
- Go outside every day. Before Tasha, I spent far too much time indoors. Now I’m outside several times a day. Our frequent walks are good exercise for both of us. Being outside breathing fresh air and enjoying nature is profoundly healthy and beneficial.
- Don’t be afraid of the weather. Tasha enjoys her outside time whether it’s blistering hot, pouring down rain, or freezing cold. We take walks in driving snow, torrential rain, or under the hot sun. Before adopting Tasha, I had been an “inside girl.” I usually avoided precipitation and hid away in my climate-controlled environment. Not anymore. I take Tasha outside regardless of the weather. And now, I’ve learned to appreciate (or at least accept) whatever Mother Nature has to throw my way.
- Don’t be afraid to get messy. When it rains or snows, things can get messy. Feet get wet. Boots get covered in mud or slush. Tasha fearlessly cavorts through any yucky muck in her path and I slog behind her. Together, we’ve discovered some very beautiful trails I would never have found on my own. Sometimes the mud and muck is totally worth it.
- Be patient. With a dog, everything takes a little longer. My morning routine now incorporates Tasha’s walks and playtime, so I have to get up a little earlier. Since I take Tasha with me on errands whenever I can, I’ve had to learn to give myself a little bit of extra time. For example, Tasha comes with me in the morning when I drive the kids to school, so I have to expect that getting in and out of the car might take a little longer than normal. She might need to take a detour to go potty. Or she might need to sniff a bug. After walks, I have to take the time to wipe off her muddy paws. We took Tasha with us on a long car trip over the holidays, and we stopped every two hours to take her on walks and tend to her comfort. The trip might have taken a little longer, but it was worth it to know she was happy and comfortable. I’ve never been a particularly patient person, but with Tasha, I’ve learned to wait. And wait. And wait some more. I’ve learned to relax and to accept that life doesn’t always operate according to my schedule.
- Take naps. Tasha takes a lot of naps. Since I get up earlier than I used to, I sometimes catch up on missed sleep when she’s napping. There’s nothing better than snuggling with a dog. And there’s something very luxurious about stretching out and taking a mid-day nap. Tasha and I highly recommend it.
- Appreciate nature. Thanks to Tasha, I notice things I used to take for granted. I appreciate the changing seasons. A cool breeze. The warm sun. The sound of autumn leaves crunching under my feet. When I’m taking Tasha outside in the middle of the night, I appreciate the solitude, the quiet, the stars in the sky. There are many things worth appreciating. Just step outside your front door.
- Be joyful. Dogs find joy in everything. A treat. A walk. A belly rub. It’s impossible to be unhappy when I watch Tasha scamper through the snow or skip down the sidewalk. Life isn’t always easy, so it’s important to find joy in the simple things. We can choose to be joyful, even if it’s just for a few moments in time.
- Be peaceful. We don’t always need to be busy, active, and engaged. We don’t always need to be plugged in to a phone, or computer, or other forms of technology. We miss out on so much when we’re busy. We don’t always have to be doing something. Oftentimes, when I’m outside with Tasha and she’s sitting in the yard breathing the fresh air, watching birds fly overhead, and listening to the sounds of nature, I try to experience the world as she does. I breathe. I listen. I feel true peace.
These are only some of the lessons I’ve learned from my dog. It’s fair to say that I’d already learned some of this long before we adopted Tasha, but I feel that she’s reminded me of what is important. Tasha has enhanced my life in so many ways. I’m so grateful that she’s become part of our family.