Life can certainly toss some unpleasant stuff our way. From a car that won’t start before an important meeting to a coworker who figuratively tossing you under the bus, one thing is certain – unhappy situations are sure to crop up now and then.
As you understandably fume about something that happened hours, days or even weeks earlier, thankfully your beloved dog is bouncing nearby, snuffling happily through the grass or stopping suddenly on a walk to look up as if to say “Isn’t this grand?” If only dogs could tell us how they stay in that happy zone!
While we can’t expect dogs to be a miracle cure for all of the heavy deep and real problems that happen to us, their carefree antics certainly do inspire us to see the joyful side of life.
Here are 7 ways they do just that:
1. Dogs don’t need to win.
Being told to “forgive and forget” isn’t something that comes naturally to overthinking humans. Wouldn’t that mean that mean that badness wins? Although we know we’d be much happier if we could just put our grievances behind us, we are competitive beings who crave closure. Even when it won’t change the outcome of an accident or mistake, if the person at fault doesn’t apologize, we can sometimes hang onto resentment for weeks.
When your dog’s dinner is late, he wags his tail when you finally serve him. When one dog gets in a spat with another, life begins anew once the offending canine is out of sight and mind. Agility dogs who celebrate a win are leaping with joy because their guardian is proud of them, not because they have bested the other dogs. Your two dogs certainly may compete for your attention…but at least that’s propelled by affection.
The next time you find yourself angrily stewing when a dangerous driver cuts you off, lighten your thoughts by imagining what your dog might choose: retribution, or a treat? A tall iced coffee as a reward for your restraint is far more satisfying than tailgating the offender all the way home. Congratulate yourself on your doglike fortitude and let some of that competitive sh*t go.
2. Dogs are grateful.
Do you keep a gratitude journal to remind you of that day’s bright moments? Dogs embody gratitude from nose to tail. When you provide your dog with the necessities of life – food, water, shelter, exercise and attention -- they treat you as if you’ve given them an incredibly special gift instead of just the basics they deserve. As you feed, brush, hug, snuggle, and walk with your dog, focus on the gratitude they shine up at you. Their enthusiasm may make it easier for you to notice the many positive glimmers in your day and help you brush off the negative crap.
3. Dogs look forward, not back.
Dogs go into bounce mode when they see their leash, anticipating that upcoming walk. New experiences send them over the moon with happiness. You’ll find a lot of adoptable shelter dogs with their paws up on their kennel door, looking forward to going home with one of those visitors walking by. A dog who is very poorly treated certainly has good reason to snarl at their persecutor (dogs aren’t pushovers, after all), but dogs who are healthy, well-fed and loved would rather look forward toward future fun than back at yesterday’s grievances.
Looking constantly forward is a little harder for our big human brain. We spend a lot of time replaying past events that we can’t really change, instead of anticipating the opportunities of a new day.
We invite dogs into our lives precisely because we love their forward-looking enthusiasm. When you get bogged down worrying about what happened last week, think about what makes your dog happy. A new adventure? A tasty meal? Learning something new? What can you do to help create a fun and forward-looking life? “Ask” your dog!
4. Dogs actually enjoy getting rid of unwanted sh*t. Dogs get GREAT satisfaction nosing an unwanted treat under a rug or burying it deep in the dirt. They may even pee on it for good measure, to be sure no one else can enjoy it. In fact, dogs who hoard their uneaten treats instead of getting rid of them are often plagued by anxiety as they defend their possessions from other curious pets (here’s some help if your dog is a resource guarder). If your own life is full of clutter or mementos that bring you twinges of guilt or sadness instead of comfort, maybe it’s time to “bury” them in the attic until you are ready to dig them up again, or just go ahead and dispose of them completely. Make like a dog and free yourself of stuff that drags you down.
5. A happy tired dog doesn’t dwell on unhappy stuff
Here are three simple canine truths:
- Dogs love to romp.
- A tired dog is a happy dog.
- A bored dog will fill the day with unhappy activities like chewing, barking, or pacing.
We share these truths with our furry best friends. The more fun and exercise we get, the less we dwell on unhappy stuff and the better we sleep! Luckily, having a dog in your life is added incentive to become more active. Dog guardians are four times more likely than other folks to meet physical activity guidelines. So, if the daily grind is getting to you, take a hint from your dog – it’s time to go play!
6. If dogs can’t beat sh*t, they roll in it.
For some dogs, the smellier or muddier something is, the better reason there is to roll in it. If they are going to get dirty, they’ll do it in a BIG way, then go home and suffer the extra-soapy bath that’s sure to follow. Sometimes when you have a problem or are facing a tough conversation, it’s better not to let dread taint your life for weeks. Take a deep breath, tackle it, get it out of the way, then wash off any bad feelings with a long hot shower. Throw on some good music, fall back on your couch with your dog, and call it done. You can enjoy the clean relief together.
7. Dogs take time to breathe.
Ever notice your dog’s first act when they are freed from the house for a walk or play session? Their head goes up for a great big breath of air or their nose goes down for a huge sniff of the ground.
It may seem trite to be told “just breathe” when you’re overworked or are genuinely feeling upset, but your non-judgmental dog would assure you that it’s good advice. A few moments of deep breathing actually does lower your blood pressure, and reduce stress. If you’re suddenly frustrated or angered at home, at work, or in traffic, take three slow deep breaths to allow the harsh edge of your emotion to ebb away. Those ten seconds of controlled breathing won’t miraculously fix your problem, but the reaction you ultimately choose will be one you will be proud of making.
Shall we sum it all up? Dogs teach us that just because life isn’t always perfect, negativity doesn’t have to control our lives. Just strive for these 7 Dog Rules for Doing Away with Doo:
- Happiness is more important than winning.
- Be grateful.
- Look forward instead of back.
- Get rid of stuff if it makes you anxious.
- Play = Happy thoughts and a good night’s sleep!
- Sometimes you need to get sh*t out of the way.
- Just breathe.
These little gems of canine advice inspire us here at the dooloop. Sometimes you DO have to carry crap – even your dog’s literal crap – when you don’t really want to. That doesn’t mean that lugging it along has to spoil your enjoyment. With the dooloop to securely hold that poo-bag, you can forget about the crap you are carrying and keep your hands free to do the things you love – hug your dog, hold a hand, call a friend, or push your stroller. Anything!
Try using your dog’s daily dose of joyful enthusiasm as a lighthearted guide to help de-stress your life. By watching your dog forgive and forget, it may be a bit easier for you to see the less-serious side of daily mishaps.
Join your dog in life-affirming fun whenever you can…and just let that other sh*t go!