They say that having a dog will bring you many of the very best days of your life… and one of the worst. I tend to agree with this statement. Our family has had several dachshunds over the last three decades and each one has brought much joy to our lives.
Our current dog, Chloe (see photo), has been, perhaps, the most enjoyable of them all. Chloe has a simple life: she eats (this includes both normal meals and food that drops on the floor or that she can steal from our grandchildren), sleeps, and “protects” us from the very friendly black labrador retriever that lives next door. That’s it… nothing more complex than that. When you compare her life to ours, you’ll note that she is not really worried about life’s complexities. She just deals with the day she has the best she can.
I recently watched a movie on a flight called, “A Dog’s Purpose.” The movie is not very deep or critically acclaimed, yet I did enjoy it. Essentially, the story covers several lives of a dog. You see it living on a farm in one life, as a police dog in another, a show dog in another, etc. Eventually, it makes it back to its original owner. However, the theme of the movie is to learn the real purpose of a dog. At the end, there are 5 purposes identified. In many ways, these 5 purposes of a dog could serve us well in keeping our lives focused and fulfilling. Let’s take a look at each:
- Have fun – A dog’s primary purpose is to have fun and ensure that everyone else has fun, too… at least in its early years. Too many people have lost this. We are so caught up in our daily routine, meeting the expectations of others, and fighting the good fight that we forget to do something fun, at least occasionally. Doing something purposeful to have fun can help keep us grounded, balanced, and mentally cleansed. How about it? Are you putting your responsibilities on “pause” occasionally to do something that has as its only purpose for you to have fun?
- Save someone else if you can – In the movie, the dog saved his master both physically and emotionally. He found that part of his purpose was to identify the need of his master and work to make that part better. We should endeavor to do the same. Everyone has a need in their life. It is easy to become consumed by our own needs, but exhibit the best of ourselves when we are serving others. Serving others ALWAYS takes the focus off our own problems.
- Not get caught up in regrets from the past – The past is often a heavy burden. It can weigh us down, drains us, and deceive us. We can’t do anything to change the past and, besides, we probably did what we thought was best at the time anyway. Someone once said, “Don’t let the past use up too much of today.” This is so true. We must focus on the only day we are promised… today. My dog, Chloe, never lets past mistakes carryover to today. A good lesson for us all.
- Finding someone to share life with – Dogs are social animals. My dog wants to be with me wherever I am. She greets me first thing in the morning and is on my lap when I go to the bedroom at night. She enjoys people and interacts in a friendly way with everyone. Life is not meant to be lived in isolation. We need to intentionally reach out to others. It is tempting to say “no” when invited to spend time with friends or colleagues (who doesn’t enjoy an occasional night just sitting on the couch and watching TV), but we need to interact, network, and befriend others. Life is much better when shared.
- Just be here now – A dog always gives 100% right now. It is not distracted by devices, upcoming activities, or problems. Its only focus is on what is occurring at this minute. We could probably use more of this attitude. I remember several occasions when I was at a fun event (e.g., golf, baseball game, birthday party, etc.), but was mentally involved in something else. I was not giving my full attention to the activity or people I was with. We need to be more like our canine friends… give 100% to what you are doing right now.
Chloe just turned ten years old… rather old for a dachshund. I know that one of the worst days of my life is coming someday. Yet, there are things about her life now that can be beneficial to me. I am certainly an old dog, but, hopefully, there are things I can still learn and ways I can change to be a better person. Perhaps, you might find yourself in the same position today.
Have a great, productive, and happy day! You never know when a day might be your best yet.