In Mind

Lessons I learned from my dog

If you have a dog, you are probably thinking that they are the best and most wonderful of all dogs.

Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

My dog, Dixie, is actually the best of all dogs and the life lessons I’ve learned from my dog are invaluable. Stay with me and I will explain.

My girl didn’t have the best start. I found her in front of Whole Foods one summer day as I was pondering the ridiculous price of watermelons. She was filthy, emaciated, and scared. As she lay there panting on the hot pavement, I wondered if she was still alive as it looked like all life had seeped from her body.

Without much rational thought, I scooped her up and put her in the back of my car. When I’d arrived home my children, expecting watermelon, had bewildered looks on their faces when as they saw this skeleton of a dog appear from the hatch.

I knew there was more to her than what the eye could see. What I didn’t know was that she had severe pneumonia and was very close to death. Not because she couldn’t be treated, but because she had lost the will to live.

She had been dumped in the street by someone she had loved dearly – a pain I could only imagine and it was clear she didn’t care to participate on such a cruel planet.

She spent the next two months living in my bedroom closet cowered in the corner. As a homeopath, I treated her holistically with remedies, herbs, and a healthy diet. I also laid next to her, reaffirming that she was loved and wanted.

Over the next few weeks, I saw a glimmer slowly appear in her eye. As her body strengthened, so did her resolve to come back to the world. Slowly, she started coming out of the closet – only in the middle of the night at first then permanently. As I slept I could feel her standing by the bed watching me. I wondered what she was thinking and how I could help rebuild the trust that had been shattered within her.

As weeks became months, she slowly started walking – first around the block, then through the neighborhood. Now she runs though the fields in the Sierra Nevada mountains. As she was greeted with smiles and pets during our outings, she became more comfortable with herself. Soon she blossomed into the being she was meant to me, a therapy dog ready to comfort anyone struggling to get to the other side of an issue like she had done.

As she bloomed, I retreated into my own health issues. As the autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis ravaged my body and soul, she lay next to me in bed for months. Contemplating my own existence, I now fully understood her and what she felt when she was curled in the corner of my closet.

Life lessens can come from anywhere if we are open to receiving them. Here are just a few life lessons I learned from my dog:

  1. Life is a choice – We get to choose how we want to live, no matter what the circumstances are. There are just a many healthy people walking around like they are half dead as sick people living vibrant lives. Dixie came back from heartbreak and health issues stronger than ever. If she can do it, so can you and I. She didn’t give up on life or mankind even when it gave up on her. As a result of her fortitude and strength, she has been able to work with me in my practice for years comforting my clients in their hour of need. She has also played mother to our rescue cat which she raised. She has lived a life worth living and should be proud as she leans in to her golden years.
  1. Vulnerability opens the door to love – My girl took a chance when she opened her heart again. So many of us shun love after being burned by its flames. Her vulnerability to share her heart again brought comfort and unconditional love to hundreds when they needed it most. She wasn’t afraid of love, even when it proved her wrong. She took a chance and put herself out there again and it paid off for all of us.
  1. Never give up on never giving up  We all reach a point where life isn’t worth living anymore just as she did. As I lay sick in my bed fighting for every breath I took in, it would have been easy to let go of my tether on life. I remember looking into her eyes during those times of contemplation and watching her willing me back to life. She never gave up on me, there was no way I could give up on myself. That ‘never give up attitude’ she taught me is what sustained me though the years I spent in and out of the hospital. Never giving up got me out of that bed and back into the world. It’s a mantra I live every minute of every day.
    No matter how hard life knocks you down, you can still get up and tell life that it punches like a bitch.Click To Tweet

Life lessons are learned in the most subtle ways. I learned my life lessons from my dog, yours may come from a homeless person. You never know who God will use to teach. Make sure you are paying attention.

We all struggle with loss, health and financial issues and a multitude of other obstacles we can use to further our growth. What I’ve learned from my dog is that by making a choice to live in vulnerability and being open to the journey, we can share our hearts with those who need it most as she did with me. Also, by creating a ‘never give up’ attitude, I know by watching her that anything is possible.

Have you ever learned an important lesson in an unexpected way? I’l love to hear about it in the comments section below. Also, if you are looking for strength and encouragement, join my private FaceBook group the Wellness Warrior Tribe where we learn and grow together.

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