Life in the Fast Lane


10 Lessons Learned the Ruff Way

By 8:21 PM , , ,

Because my officemate wrote about her cat experience, I decided to write what I learned from having a dog for years.



This was written not by a dog behaviorist, veterinarian, or animal trainer, but by someone who's owned and loved dogs for many years; someone who's cleaned dog poop with her bare hands, had blisters from running after a dog on a leash, helped replant sections of the garden that had been de-planted, became a mama dog's Lamaze partner, cried when a furry friend died, rejoiced at the arrival of another, and blogged about/Facebooked/Tweeted about their antics.

1) Life is not fair.

You toss a piece of bread this way, intending to give it to Dog A. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Dog B leaps into the air, opens his mouth, and in goes that piece of bread. Dog A doesn't have time to mourn over the injustice of it all. Instead, with determination, he looks up at you with those big, brown eyes, coaxing you into giving him another.

You may want something so bad that when it's taken from you, you throw yourself a pity party. But just learn from our furry friends. Stop mourning. Start doing.

2) When you do something wrong, wait a bit, then come back and say sorry.

You come home after a long day of work and you see that your garden isn't what it looked like just hours ago. All your plants are uprooted, soil is scattered everywhere. You wonder where Snoopy went. He's nowhere in sight.

You call for him with an angry tone and all the more you can't find him. It's like he's disappeared into the Hole of Oblivion of Guilty Dogs.

Frustrated with the search, you give up. You sit down on the sofa, down a glass of water, and calm down. Suddenly, Snoopy appears with brown stains all over his paws. Slowly, tentatively, he approaches you, his eyes sadder than the most miserable teenager on earth. But because you have already calmed down, you can't find it in you to get riled up once more.

So when you've wronged someone, don't mess things up even more by being in his or her way. Give him or her time to calm down, collect himself/herself, then apologize. And look like you mean it.

3) Routine is sometimes a good thing.

We complain that monotony is boring. But without monotony, there would be anarchy.

Without routine, your housebroken pup wouldn't have been able to master peeing and/or pooping at 6:30 am, 9:00 am, 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 7:30 pm. Without walking your dog at the stroke of four in the afternoon daily, he'd be restless, bored, and aggressive.

Without routine, imagine how erratic or unpredictable your sleeping patterns would be? Imagine waking up for work at different times, only to face different kinds of traffic, then to log in at different times?

Without routine, I wonder what kind of bowel movement we'd have. On second thought, I'd rather not wonder.

Stop hating on routine. Learn to appreciate it. Maybe even love it.

4) Obey without complaining.

"Sit, Max!" you say, expecting the dog's rump to hit the floor within seconds. Do you hear him complain?

Okay, fine. He doesn't speak human. But he doesn't howl and whine either, does he? As insane and repetitive as the command is, he will sit. Even if the floor is cold. Even if the dust hasn't been swept. He will sit.

So the next time your mom tells you to get a glass of water, just get it. The energy you'd otherwise spend when you complain should just be channeled towards propelling your legs to move and get that glass of water. Obeying without complaining will save you from experiencing physical and emotional stress in the long run. Seriously.

5) When someone's overstepping, let him know.

My Labrador, Shadow, never seems to run out of pee. He'll pee on every conceivable tire, lamppost, hydrant, bush, or wall. But that's because he wants everything to be part of his turf.

So when he comes across dogs that cross his path (aside from our other two dogs, Cassie and Buddy), he growls. He'll let that other dog know that he crossed that invisible line.

Next time someone says something below the belt, call him out. If you feel that someone's invaded your personal space, tell him or her. Don't be afraid to set boundaries and to let people know about it. I'm sure they'd want you to respect their feelings or space as well.

6) There is order in hierarchy. Follow the Alpha.

For the most part, we aren't submissive beings. We question the system and rebel. We cry, "Democracy!" when we feel that we're being repressed.

Dogs do no such thing. In a pack, the Alpha Male (or Female) is King (or Queen). What the Alpha says, goes. The Alpha gets to eat and be pet first. If anyone dares challenge him, he'll literally be the underdog as the rest of the pack will side with the Alpha.

While questioning the system is good and healthy, we can't always rebel. Without this natural order, there would be chaos. Respect and listen to your teachers, bosses and elders. In time, you will be the Alpha Male or Female anyway. Just wait it out.

7) Be transparent; growl when you're mad, wag your tail when you're happy.

Dogs don't know a thing about being plastic or hypocritical. I've never seen a dog that hated a tummy rub but acted like he loved it. I've never seen a dog pretend that he didn't want to eat, only to gobble an entire bowl of dog food an hour later. Whatever he feels, he shows it.

So if someone annoyed you, tell him or her. Stop going around and acting like he or she is the best thing that ever happened to friendship. Don't hide behind that fake smile. Growl or even bite, if you must. On the other hand, if someone has lifted your spirits, thank him or her. Wag that tail of yours!

8) Don't be fooled by looks.

After eight long weeks, you can finally take home that puppy you'd been waiting for and dreaming of. You go to the breeder's home and are greeted by squirming, furry, adorable, to-die-for puppies. Naturally, you gravitate towards the cutest, most charming, friendliest one.

Weeks later, your once cute puppy somehow metamorphosed into this gangly, unruly, un-everything puppy. Then you find out that its sibling, the runt of the litter, won ribbon after ribbon in every dog show it has joined.

Don't let looks deceive you. The hot guy you've set your eyes on may actually be a jerk or a player. The fashionable snotty It Girl could be treating you like dirt because she's either jealous of you or insecure. Be wary of how you judge people based on their looks.

9) Forgive and forget.

A dog holds no grudges. Even if you forget to walk him today, he'll still love you 100%. Even if your punishing methods are barbaric by his standards (i.e. rubbing his nose into a pile of his own poop), he'll want to play fetch with you within minutes. Even if you've chained him up all afternoon, leaving him alone and feeling extremely lonely, the second you get home, all is well. The spark has returned to his eyes, and he'll give you nothing short of unadulterated adoration and love.

We take mental notes of how many times we were hurt. We seek revenge on our enemies, even for the pettiest of injustices. If our furry friends, whose intelligence is supposedly inferior to ours, can let go of past hurts, we should do the same.

10) Life is short, so live it to the full.

A dog's lifetime is but a fraction of ours, but every second of it is spent with joy. Blackie eats like there's no tomorrow, plays every game of catch as if it's the coolest thing on the planet, rolls over for tummy tickle time as if things couldn't get any better. He seizes each moment and makes the most of it.

We should be thankful that our lifespans are longer and that we can enjoy its fruits so much more. Let's not waste it by wallowing in self-pity, by holding a grudge or by exacting revenge. May each moment, experience, or person who comes into our lives enrich our time here on earth.

My senior Lab, Shadow.

My choco girl, Cassie.

My still-growing baby, Buddy.

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  1. Hello, Tina, I blog-hopped my way onto your blog.

    Can't help but comment, I have several pets (among them a 3-year old yellow Lab). I was chuckling while reading this post. :)

    Will follow your blog for more of your pet posts. :)

  2. Hi Dea!

    Sorry for the really late reply! Thanks for reading (and chuckling). Glad this post gave you a good laugh. :)

    Will post more pet-related things soon!


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