Just over a month ago, my husband and I adopted a dog from an animal shelter three hours from our house. We had been planning to get a puppy but were committed to adopting from a shelter or animal rescue. The animal shelter we drove to had a lot of puppies for adoption and we found Marley, an Australian Shepherd/Kelpie mix.
Marley and his siblings were approximately 11 weeks old and had been abandoned on the road near the shelter. Marley was quite timid and not very trusting of people initially. He had a rough start but is happy to now be part of our family. Since he’s been at our home, he’s really loosened up and has learned to trust and now seems much more puppy-like.
Spending time with Marley has been a great reminder to me about what’s important. It’s been fun to watch everything through his new eyes and how much he loves the little things we take for granted.
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” ~ Milan Kundera
Marley has also been a great teacher, reminding me that the keys to happiness are simple:
1. Love Unconditionally
Dogs aren’t concerned about how your hair looks, what brand of clothes you’re wearing, or what kind of car you drive. They don’t care how much you’ve accomplished or if you’re just sitting back relaxing. They just love, unconditionally. However you are at the moment is enough. How beautiful would life be if we all applied this concept more often?
2. Be in the Moment
Dogs are masters of being in the moment and fully experiencing the present. They aren’t upset about what happened in the past or worried about the future, their focus on is the now. Marley was so excited the first day he came home and was able to roll in the grass in his backyard. It was so much softer and cooler than the gravel that was in his cage at the shelter and he loved it. The simple things like fresh grass are easy to overlook but when we stop and slow down, we notice every blade of grass is beautiful and unique. Being in the now allows us to fully experience and appreciate all life has to offer. Practice being present, sit and allow yourself to just “be”.
It takes a lot to upset a puppy. Marley is far more likely to wag his tail then ever bark at you, unless he’s pulling on his favorite rope toy. Dogs are generally happy and don’t have mood swings or get upset. They are constant in their joy for life and greet each day with a smile or a wag of the tail. Be constant in your joy, bark less, and wag more.
4. Be Open to Making New Friends
Marley has really enjoyed getting out to see new places and has met a lot of new people and dogs. He’s more than happy to stop and greet a stranger and very excited to meet another friendly dog. On his first walk on the beach, we met a pudgy schnauzer named Christian and his owner, and a pug named Bo. When given the opportunity, dogs can quickly turn strangers into friends.
Hanging out with Marley has made me more social too. Everywhere we go we are stopped by strangers who want to meet him, ask about his breed and his age, and just to say hello. We’ve met a lot of great people in the last month. This made me think, what if we were always so welcoming to new people? It’s easy to get caught up with getting to where we need to be that we often forget to smile or say hello. Being open to making new friends is a beautiful place to be. What can you do today to allow yourself to be open to making new friends?
5. Take Regular Breaks to Play
I am fortunate that I am able to work from home. The downside to my work is that I often spend many long hours in front of the computer or on the phone. Marley loves sitting on his big round bed in my office chewing on his toys but he’s also sure to remind me that we need to take a break. Puppies need frequent bathroom breaks of course, but they also need breaks to play. A ten minute chase around the backyard refreshes Marley, and me too I’ve found. Taking regular breaks to play throughout the day is great for our health and also our mindset. How can you add more play to your day?
“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” ~ John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
What keys to happiness have you learned from your dog? Which keys did I miss? I look forward to visiting with you in the comments.
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