I am a pooch fan.
While I have owned a variety of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, turtles and even a snake during my life, my affinity is drawn to the canine!
But let it be said, that being the wellness passionista that I am, I believe that all pets can have a beautiful and powerful way of helping us to live healthier and happier lives.
Currently, I am the proud owner and mama of two awesome male Samoyeds: Turbo (who is 12 years old) and Tazer (who is 3 years old). Alpha by all means! They were historically bred to be herding or work dogs. However, because of their kind, gentle nature and very furry coats, people often snuggled up to them at night for warmth, companionship and affection. They are a very loving, gentle breed. And they have taught me so much about love, nature, loving the moments of life and staying young and carefree.
So how does your pet dog help to optimize your wellness? Why is he/she so special? Here are some of the top lessons on what your canine companion can teach you and how that doggie love can ramp up your wellbeing too:
Dogs give unconditional love.
Those challenging days when nothing seems to be going quite right and you feel the overwhelm, your pup is there to always BE love. That's just one of the reasons they are called "man's/woman's best friend." Dogs have a very innate sense of your emotions and feelings. They intuitively pick up on what you are feeling, but they obviously can't verbalize it. So what do they do? They LOVE you... whether you are happy, sad, frustrated, anxious, lonely, depressed or are just having an "off" day. They greet you with wagging tails and big smiles! Dogs share the love.
Dogs don't judge.
Media often seems to lend itself to making you more self critical. How skinny you are or aren't. How much money you have or don't. How popular you are or aren't. But dogs... ahhh... they don't care. They want you to love them and love your life. How beautiful of a lesson is that? Can it get any better? They don't care how you (show your) age, how you may not be so fashion forward, how you snore, how you are a tad off pitch when you sing or how that home cooked meal tastes not so cookbook-like! Dogs don't judge you. Many people constantly compare appearances, physiques, financial status, or relationships. So the lesson here is to learn let go of comparison. Judge others less and instead focus on becoming a better you. Become a "you" of significance.
Dogs inspire you to be playful.
Seriously, what dog does not LOVE to play? It's in their nature. Dogs love action and mobility. They love to be engaged in new activities. Yes, you can teach an old(er) dog new tricks -- rather behaviors. They love to run (especially when they are young) and love for you to run with them. They love fetching almost anything, playing hide-n-seek, rolling in the grass, mushing through mounds of snow or taking a dip or afternoon swim. Join them? Heck yes. Being playful keeps you younger both emotionally and physically as well as providing other wonderful health benefits!
Dogs make you laugh.
They sometimes do the craziest things. Rolling, licking, rocking, howling, just silly behaviors that we smile at, grin at, giggle at or have a full belly laugh for. Unplanned, unscheduled, they just seem to know exactly when we need to lighten up and like magic, they tickle our funny bone. Laughter increases the "feel good hormone" (endorphines) and reduces the stress hormone (cortisol). When you are feeling the need for an uplift, get down on the floor and have a light hearted face-to-face with your pup. Betcha he will become one of your most favorite comedians.
Dogs are forgiving.
You may have forgot to set out a bowl of clean, fresh drinking water, been an hour late for their walk, misplaced their favorite toy or after a long, frustrating day at work scolded them in appropriately. But even with their disappointment, they will always forgive you and behave as if you never erred. Can you be as forgiving as your dog with your dog OR with people? What a beautiful world this would be if we could forgive as easily and move toward love!
Dogs never have a real agenda.
You are always on a schedule right? Not so with your dog. She will relax when you need to, play when you are ready, be hungry when she hears the dinner bell, and be ready for snuggles when she gets a glimpse of your yawn in the evening hours. Dogs "roll" with you. No hidden agenda to do something or anything particular. How cool is that ? Can you enjoy that kind of flexibility in your own life? Maybe you need to loosen up your agenda a bit? Ahhhh... that freedom feeling!
Dogs encourage you to get outside and enjoy nature.
Canine buddies are lovers of walks in grass, dirt, mud, sand, water and snow. Wherever the venue, they don't seem to really mind being outside. And one of the most wonderful things you can do is to walk your dog as often as possible. Get him outside to run, romp and play. And while you are both breathing fresh air, take a closer look at the beauty of nature all around you. The sky, clouds, trees, plants, birds, squirrels and butterflies will soon take on a new perspective. Take time to marvel at the beauty of nature which surrounds you but which you may sometimes forget is there to nourish you.
Dogs learn their "place" and respect it.
Through your own instruction or a trainer's, dogs learn to understand their role with you and what they can and can't get away with. And with positive reinforcement, they will learn great respect for their owner/handler. Even among other dogs, they quickly size up "pecking order" and quickly determine who is "king of the castle" in any particular situation. You can readily observe this in your own home if you own several pets. Your dog(s) will learn and adapt to who is the leader of the pack. In life, people can learn to appreciate how respect for others can have a profound effect in not only how they live their own lives but how they demonstrate leadership qualities to others.
Dogs teach you to nourish yourself through touch.
Belly rubs, tummy scratches, nose kisses, paw massages or just plain petting-they love it all. Touching your pup is very soothing for them. Pay close attention to their relaxation and sense of calmness when you touch them in a very soothing, caring way. Humans, like dogs, receive pleasure from nourishing, nurturing touch. So allow yourself to be a bit more vulnerable when it comes to being touched in a positive, loving way. As long as the intention behind that touch is positive and kind, soak it up. The power of positive touch can be extremely healing for both your dog and for you.
Dogs revel in the moment.
We never do enough of this: Be in the moment. We are always regretting the past or projecting a future with anxiety. Dogs don't think and behave like this. They are always present and up for whatever comes next. How great would it be for you to truly live like this? How different would your perspective and life be? Both chronic regret and anxiety are precursors for chronic disease. Just think how much less stress you would have if you let go of the past and let the future just flow! Ahhh... learn from these canines!
Dogs can be the ultimate warriors, helpers, leaders and protectors.
They guide the blind or visually impaired, search out IEDs, assist the elderly, calm children in a range of situations or simply bark to signal to you that there is a stranger approaching your property. Dogs by their very nature are companion oriented and bond to their owners to serve them. Observe their courage, determination and ability to lead and use it to become a better leader in your own life.
Dogs love to mark their presence.
Y'all know what I'm talking about here. Whether it's on a tree trunk, a fire hydrant, a trash can, a snow bank, or any other stand alone abject, they love to let everyone know they were there. That yellow defining mark! Symbology: "I am canine. I am here. And I am marking my spot to purposefully let you know I was here!" So in a gentle, creative, passionate way, mark your own significance in the world. Show the world why and how you can and will make difference. Baby steps are allowed.
Our furry canine friends are loaded with affection and ultimately make fun, compassionate pets because they have no reason not to. If you treat them with love and care, the lessons and love and (ultimately) health benefits you will receive back from them will be unmatched. The dog lessons are doggone life changing when you learn from them!
With dog loving affection and passion!