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Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of bonding with my new dog Molly.
It began with having to discipline her for her “fear biting.” Of course, I recognized that she had been abused a couple years back in a puppy mill, and she had reasons to be fearful. But she had to get beyond it because of young children in the family that could be needlessly bitten. She had nipped and threatened to bite.
As my wife and I began training her and attempting to convince the rest of the family that Molly was less of a threat, we brought in a second dog whisperer. Gina had a different approach than the first dog whisperer. She talked to Molly, and after a few minutes exclaimed, “I’ve talked to Molly and she’s okay. She’s totally okay. It’s you two that are neurotic. Not her.” We had a big laugh at ourselves and asked Gina for some insights.
As we talked, I realized that Molly’s intuition and precognition of what was about to happen was a big part of the problem. For example, when I had “simply decided” that I was going to give her a bath, she promptly hid under the bed. Later, when I came to enforce her bath time, she bit me.
But worse than the bite, I was frustrated that she hid before I could bring her the bad news. She smartly pre-empted me. Gina’s response was very much from the canine perspective. “Since she knows beforehand, just tell her, ‘Molly, you’re freaking me out!’ She’ll understand and respond.”
The time my wife and I spent with Gina was not about getting the dog to understand that we are “Alpha.” It was realizing that Molly is as smart as we are and she deserves to be treated like that.
Since then, things with Molly are much improved. For example, I bought the kind of leash that extends, allowing her to run and be a dog, instead of the short leash that requires her to march to my tune. Our walks are not a tussle for who will do the leader, but a pleasure walk; me at my speed and her at hers. Bonding is so much easier when there is more pleasure and mutual respect.
And now that my wife and I are less neurotic about being “Alpha,” the grandchildren have warmed to Molly and play with her not as a doll but as a family member.
Bonding to Life can be much like bonding to Life’s creatures. Human beings in the Western, industrialized world come to Life with an eye to mastering it. The whole idea makes me laugh. How can we, the creations of Life delude ourselves into thinking that we can master Life?
Within the above time frame of bonding to Molly, my wife picked out a book while browsing the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. The book is “Animal Wisdom.” Written by Veterinarian Linda Bender, she speaks about the wisdom animals bring to us if we will listen. She is respectful of and humbled by the evidence of intelligent and capable creatures, beings that can make our lives more meaningful, connected, healthy, joyful and responsive to Life.
Of course, dog and cat owners can readily understand this kind of mutual care and broader sense of belonging. And the joy brought by animals may be easily witnessed on Facebook, with the many postings of cute dogs and wise cats, protecting us during a time of decreased human to human contact.
I’m not suggesting we all get a pet, but to realize that Life reaches out to us in so many ways and requests our humility, respect and full engagement. When you get a chance, gratefully eyeball a goldfish, stroke a friendly dog or cat wandering outside. Read more about these amazing creatures or read some snippets of “Animal Wisdom” using the “Look inside” feature at Amazon.com. Or go to Barnes and Noble.
Peruse cat or dog books. Share pictures of pets. Celebrate Life by listening to the love, playfulness, wisdom, intelligence, persistence, healing kindness and ability to relate between species that animals bring to our vision of Life’s possibilities.
There is no denying that animals help us heal, take joy in Life and lower blood pressure. Do yourself a Life-giving favor. Don’t waste a minute more. “Reach out” and learn about animals. There is nothing more important than connecting with Life.
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About six weeks ago, my wife brought home a rescue dog. Cute to the bone. I hadn’t planned on adding a dog to my life at this time, but… I was open to what lessons it might bring me that couldn’t come any other way. The poodle took to me immediately and we bonded. Besides the bond, I loved that her needs to walk enforced a walking program on me.
The problem first raised its head when my cute, cute dog decided to be vicious to a passing neighborhood dog. Not wanting this to happen again, I made sure she was kept away from other dogs.
In the meantime, every walk we bonded more. But less than a week ago, she bit me when I tried to take her into the bathtub. I was dumbfounded, but was reminded that she was a rescue and had previously been abused. My bite wound had almost healed when I came home from work, tired and not fully attentive; she slipped out the door and spied another dog in the yard, doing some business.
I wasn’t fast enough. I blame myself, but soon resigned myself to the sad conclusion that the partnership was doomed. It hurt me tremendously, but I had a “biter.” Biters cannot be tolerated, I told myself, not under any conditions. As my wife and I discussed what we would do, I told her I would not send the dog to a new home, lest she bite again. Unless a miracle happened, we had to put her down.
My wife talked the problem over with her friends and the next morning we got a call about a “dog whisperer” that had recently landed in our circle. She started the miracle of healing the next day.
There are lots of techniques and teachings when it comes to dog training, and I already knew some techniques that were effective, but helpless in the face of a “biter.” My dog whisperer, and now friend, Ildi, would take no credit, but within 24 hours, we had a new dog.
What does this have to do with my theme, “Love, Understanding and Gratitude?” A lot. I went from angry at the dog and myself to a commitment to this dog because she is, like me, an expression of Life. I went from being scared of being sued if my dog bit someone, to being recommitted to Life. I went from sadness and regret to Gratitude that this dog came into my life and challenged my commitment to Life. I went from ignorance about biting dogs to knowing and Understanding what to do.
Ildi gives all the credit to Cesar Millan, a dog whisperer anyone can find on YouTube. My wife and I watched episodes where he took dog owners that had decided, short of a miracle, their dog would be put down, to an unbelievably loving reunion in the matter of a few lessons. These were people that loved their dog, but were at the end of their leash. I thank Ildi, Cesar, Life and Gloria (my wife) from the bottom of my dog-loving heart. Without them, I could have made a terrible, life-long, regretful decision.
I invite you to Cesar’s YouTube channel and Ildi’s House and Pet Sitting. Ildi can be reached at 760-574-6520 and I vouch for her 100%.
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Ben Fletcher blogs in Psychology Today about staying younger for longer. It’s the simple things we can do to avoid succumbing to age.
Ben regularly reminds himself that habits have a tendency to stop growth and interaction. He says it more succinctly, “Habits steal your life.” And while it’s important to remind ourselves that habits can be deadly, it’s more important to do things differently as a matter of course. Children love doing things differently. It’s fun. And that is one of the best things about being a grandparent, being with the young ones who are testing things and ideas as if the rules are flexible.
To stay younger for longer, try some difference in your life.
Question: What have you got to lose?
Answer: The sense of being old.
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I remember being 14 years old and having strange, intense pains in my legs. Yet, there was no visible cause. So, my parents took me to the family doctor who couldn’t find anything. He told my parents to “Relax. It’s probably just growing pains.”
“Growing pains?” I thought. “I’ve been growing for 14 years and growing pains were not present before. He must be wrong.” But he wasn’t. It was just growing pains.
Suffering emotional pain is a lot like growing pains. I’m not saying it’s just growing pains, but there are similarities. Often, our suffering is caused (or worsened) by our misunderstanding of a situation or clashing with an expectation we think we know is true.
Additionally, suffering comes from a grudge we won’t let go of, a lapse into victimization, a bad habit or lack of will to change. Like growing pains, these things may pass without any effort on our part. But it is more likely that these suffering pains will pass when we make effort and do at least two things:
1. Recognize our part in it and
2. Have willingness to let it go and live life differently.
I found that during my grief over the loss of my father, that committing anew to the entire scheme of life (including the loss of my father), was the tonic I needed for my emotional pain. Committing to life, all of life, proved that I had done at least two things: I admitted my part in the suffering and I used willingness to let go of the pain and live life differently.
It’s okay to take these two steps without assurance that you will have the inner strength to do it. That’s like going to a dance lesson with two left feet. (Two steps, two feet.) You strongly doubt you can be taught to dance, but you go to class and give it a good try. In a few weeks you can move in ways you didn’t think possible.
Suffering and grief call us to the dance of life. We can stay “home” and miss out, wondering if people are having a good time at the dance. Or we can go to life’s dance and be willing to let go of our grief to live life differently.
Thanks to Dreamstime.com for the legs image.
Did you miss the announcement that March 20th was the International Day of Happiness? I caught it on a blog that day. I’m not sure I needed to know it was designated so by the UN two years ago, because I was already committed.
Before I saw the blog post, I had been to the County Courthouse finishing up some “nasty” business. The clerk who had helped me before was unpleasant. “Do you have a copy,” she demanded? “Then give it to me! I need to stamp it.”
I handed her the copy. I thanked her for her help. “You’re done,” she uttered as she handed me the stamped copy. Then I wished her a good weekend.
Afterward, my personal agenda was interrupted by a phone caller who began issuing a prepared statement about his identity and purpose of his call. Just then my wife texted me, concerned that the dinner was burning. I politely stopped the caller and went to the stove to find dinner had started burning. I went back to the caller and told him that I had to interrupt because dinner was burning. We hung up and I gave him a pleasant goodbye.
Did I do that to imitate Dora Doormat? No. I did it because I wanted to add happiness to my life. I remade the rice without grumbling about the loss of food and my wife rescued the main course.
That dinner was delicious! It’s wonderful how choosing happiness boomerangs back and might land in your dinner.
I agree that the multiple foci of this blog, namely of “the meaning of life,” “commitment to the twelve essences of life,” and “Love, Understanding and Gratitude Energies,” is broad. Even love is too broad for some marketing professionals.
Is it love for animals? Love for IT? Because if it is, good marketing means narrowing it further to cats or cats of a particular breed. And instead of Microsoft or Linux, narrow it down to one program that runs on your favorite operating system. That’s the kind of narrow target that finds readers/ customers, they say.
This blog started as a focus on dealing with grief following the loss of my father. But the grief led me to insights about the meaning of life, how we are energies of Love, Understanding and Gratitude. I wrote a book on how commitment to life on its terms is the way to live fully. But I refuse to try to stick to one narrow topic, such as gratitude, even as powerful as gratitude is.
Have you ever noticed how closely Gratitude, Love and Understanding are connected? If we want to have full Gratitude, we need Love and Understanding for that object of our Gratitude. If we want to know Love, Gratitude and Understanding of the loved object are part of the whole picture. To follow Understanding, we must Love the thing we want to understand and have Gratitude for it.
So, no. Marketing principles notwithstanding, this blog will be about the whole enchilada, not just the sauce, cheese, meat, or tortilla.
Come to think of it, Life and its Meaning are funny things, too. We can’t lose sight of the big picture or our life will be lived with partial meaning, partial involvement and partial results. I want more. I want the whole picture. I want to know how Life fits together into a meaningful concept. I hope you readers do, too.
Target: all of life’s best.
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