Questions about dog behavior and training? Send them to:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lessons from the Dogs: Count the 30-Second Blessings

Note: I wrote this a couple years ago when still working 70 hours a week and just dreaming about retirement. For those of you who are still in the rat-race, this might help you make it to the finish line...

Take Time to Smell the Roses, or Fresh-Baked Bread, or a Horse, or a Dog, or....

It's one of the ways I keep myself sane and grounded in a sometimes tumultuous world.
Each day I identify some 30-second incident as the highlight of my day. While it's happening, I actually think to myself, "This is the highlight of my day! This is it!"

Frankly, I'm not into smelling roses. A horse, maybe. Last night when I went out to feed my herd in the cold darkness, I took a few extra seconds to bury my nose in the warm, dry, wooly neck of my little Icelandic. I inhaled deeply. I smelled gentleness, trustworthiness, and Montana. "You smell like Montana," I murmured to him. "This is the highlight of my day." I inhaled his scent once more to etch the picture into my brain. The picture was of the future, but the actual experience was happening--in my head--as I stood there with him.

Maybe I'll be out skiing in the orchard by myself, listening to Handel on my Ipod. The conditions are perfect for rhythmic gliding and for the endless pursuit of the perfect stride. Clean, good snow, clear tracks, crisp solitude. For a few seconds I'll actually perform a few near-perfect, effortless strides in time with the stirring music. That's the moment of the day!

Sometimes it's a mid-day nap with Atlas' head nestled beneath my chin. I can feel and hear his rhythmic, relaxed breathing. He always smells wonderful, and his plush-toy warmth puts me right to sleep. What a highlight! How great it would be if everyone could know and appreciate such a simple pleasure!

Our dogs already know how to enjoy the moment. For them, there is no yesterday or tomorrow. They are masters of living in the present and seizing all they can from each minute. After all, their lives are so short that they have no time to waste, as we foolish humans do.

Last Saturday I gave a lesson to an elderly lady and her dog. I had expected problems, but what I met was a dog that embodied truly angelic qualities. There was something UNNATURALLY special about that dog, whom she wanted to train to be a therapy dog. Holding his head in my hands and looking into his eyes, I thought, "This is the highlight of my day. I'm blessed to experience a moment like this, and to meet a dog like this."

Slow down and LET THESE MOMENTS HAPPEN. Recognize them, seize them, and triumph in them. They are mini-vacations! If they happen early in the morning, they're like high-octane fuel to get you through the rest of the day. If they happen in the evening, they're your dessert. Go stroke a horse, watch quail scuttle about, or let a loving dog affectionately lick your face. These are the thirty-second blessings of life!


Erin Chaplin said...

I'm glad that we Yaki-mites will still get to hear from you!

A 30-second blessing from Lance-- Lance didn't seem to notice the snow falling as we began his evening walk tonight, but as snowflakes were lit up by a street light Lance quickly looked up and tried to snap them up!

Barb Hoffman said...

Jan, your articles on life, death and smelling the roses, have always kept me 'grounded'. For that I am grateful.

As you have reminded us before, having a good relationship with our pet (or anyone else) begins with US. The information you share gives me tools to become a better me.

These tools are helpful whether we have a dog or not.


Sally Chapman said...

kewl Jan, i call them remarkable moments. sc