4 Things My Dog Taught Me About Finding Love

I've always considered myself to be an intelligent, independent woman. I earned my college degree on scholarship while raising four kids alone. I worked a corporate job and supported my family by myself for many years. I have things figured out and I always have a plan.

Sometimes, plans go awry. I lost my job last year and worked night and day to get my fledgling business going. Despite all my hard work, I ended up living with my son, his wife and their extremely boisterous dog, Parker.

When I moved in, Parker was big, young and high-spirited. He jumped on people, stole things and ran around the house with them, and begged at the table. He especially loved leaping onto my bed and rolling around on the covers. Even though I loved dogs and considered myself a dog person, Parker taxed my patience.

I realized that I had my work cut out for me so I went on YouTube and watched as many dog-training videos as possible. I was determined to whip him into shape. I walked him every day to get him used to being with me and following orders. I worked with him after dinner in the evenings and rewarded him with treats. Things slowly began to improve.

My goal was to get Parker to behave himself and become easier to live with. I didn't realize that I was also being trained in the process. As the weeks went on, I began to miss him when I went into the city for business events. I'd text home and ask how he was. I started saving leftovers to give to him.

Now, Parker and I are besties and yes, he is much better behaved.

What does this have to do with finding love?

1. Be open to the unexpected

This situation, and this dog were absolutely not part of my life plan. However, once I found myself in a small house with an unruly dog, I decided to make the best of it and train him.

If your search for love hasn't brought about the results you've been hoping for, be open to surprise packages. If a potential date is a little older, plainer or shorter than you'd hoped, consider giving them a chance. It's how you're treated that is important.

2. Love grows

The most annoying dog in the world has literally transformed into the best dog ever in my eyes. Why? Because I hung in there and invested in my relationship with him and we bonded. When you invest in something it becomes important to you.

If you've been seeing someone who's nice enough, but you're not all in, consider this possibility. Invest just a little time and see if you feel differently. Where has insisting on instant chemistry gotten you so far? Consider going on an unconventional date where you can see him or her in a different light. Try volunteering for something together, going for a run, attending a sporting event or a worship service.

3. Work it

I worked at training Parker. Every. Single. Day. I backed up my desire for a better life with consistent action.

How can you make your search for love more successful? Are you willing to post an online dating profile, go to a social event every week, say hello to someone different every day, or put your phone down when you're out in public?

What is the next step you can take toward the achievement of your goal? Pick something and do it consistently and you'll stand a much better chance of having the love you want.

4. Find support

Those dog training videos really helped. I also read a few books and talked to some friends. If you're stuck, seek out new information and resources. Don't give up or keep doing the same things over and over again if they aren't working.

Parker continues to be a major source of joy in my life, even though he wasn't part of my plan and I would have preferred for things to go much differently than they did. He's been such a blessing on this little "detour" from my previously scheduled life.

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