In last week’s blog suggestions were made about ways to give comfort and joy to the dogs of Old Dog Haven. This week I want to talk about receiving.
Receiving graciously is a gift too. Especially if the gift is from your dog. When you receive gifts from your dog that act of receiving opens your heart just a bit wider. I made a list (and yes, I checked it twice) of gifts you receive from your dog and my hope is that you’ll receive all of them graciously with thanks and without reservation.
1) Another Day Together
If you live with an older dog, each day your dog is able to stay with you is a gift. Be in the moment. Enjoy the time you have together. Don’t think about the “what ifs” because that kind of thinking spoils the moment.
2) Wagging tails
When your dog wags his tail at you the message is clear: “You’re my person and I love you.” Return that tail wag with a smile and a hug. I once loved a dog that was so damaged when she came to me she didn’t wag her tail for a year. On the day I received that first wag I thought I’d won the lottery. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
3) Gifts from outdoors
Dogs like to share what they find and when your dog brings you a treasure he found in the yard … even if it’s yucky … it’s important to receive that gift graciously and not come unglued because you have a dead mouse on your kitchen floor.
When your dog curls up with you on the couch and puts his head on your lap this act of intimacy is always a gift.
5) Interrupting your work with a nudge and head on your knee
If you do any work on the computer, dogs have a way of knowing when it’s time to take a break and they aren’t shy about letting you know that it’s time to quit and focus on them. My dog friend Jack will often come to me while I’m sitting at the computer and sit quietly and look at me with his favorite toy in his mouth. He doesn’t say anything. He just stares. But if I don’t stop what I’m doing for a minute and play with him he’ll drop the toy at my feet and give one bark. Message received.
Those of us who live with dogs that are old and don’t always feel well constantly receive the gift of optimism and perseverance from them. Dogs want to be well and they work from a positive approach to get the most out of every day.
7) Finding Joy When You Least Expect it
Dogs know how to experience a sense of joy and to show their joyfulness in everything they do. Whether it’s a ride in the car, a walk in the park, a special treat, or just being with you they get the most out of every moment. It’s that being in the moment thing they do so well. Receive their joyful spirit and thank them for sharing it with you.
8) Unconditional love
This is a phrase that has almost become a cliché, but I find that it’s most commonly used in connection with the relationship between a dog and a human. As humans, we do know how to love, but the feeling often becomes complicated and there are often expectations. No so with the unconditional love received from a dog. No strings. No hidden agendas. No conditions. No expectations. Your dog accepts you completely as you are and he loves you without reservation.
So, in the spirit of the season—and all seasons—graciously receive the gifts your dog gives you. In receiving you’ll be giving yourself reasons to be happy and thankful.
Note: Thank you to Julie Austin for the beautiful photos for this blog; they fit the message perfectly. And … congratulations to Julie for being voted best pet photographer in western Washington for the 5th year in a row!