This post was inspired by a dear friend who cherishes every moment that she has to enjoy her dog. I’ll have to admit that sometimes, I take those moments with Rugby for granted. When your dog is young (or relatively so) and healthy, you always think that you’ve got an endless supply of tomorrows to enjoy your dog…
I live in a busy, busy world, and it seems as if there is an endless “To Do” list waiting for me. When I finish my training day, I come home to business emails and text messages to answer, phone calls to return, blogs to write, Rugby’s Facebook page to manage….and that doesn’t include day to day life! Phew! Some days, I feel like I have a lot on my plate, just like so many of my readers.
So…to save time, I try to multi-task, right? Don’t we all do that? I’m returning phone calls while I’m loading or unloading the dishwasher, folding and putting away laundry, straightening my desk or my office, for example. I return emails or texts….or blog, while I’m eating, I’ll have to confess. I try to cut corners where I can, just to end up ahead by the time my head hits the pillow every night.
One thing I can’t do and multi-task, is that I can’t train Rugby and do anything else at the same time. I have to focus on Rugby and the very specific task that I am asking him to produce for me at that particular moment. Until I had talked to my friend, I hadn’t really realized what a gift this is to me and to Rugby both.
Our dogs spend their whole lives waiting for us. We come and we go, and we are so busy with the things that make up life as we know it. However, our dogs have such simple, small worlds. They have their home and their yard and their families for the most part. When we leave them each day, they wait for us to come home. I’m blessed that my job often leaves me being able to come and go here and there all day, so Rugby often gets little snippets of my time throughout the day. However, it’s never enough for him, and I understand that.
He waits for me.
And while he waits for me…..he hopes.
He hopes that he won’t have to wait to get my undivided attention. He hopes that I will drop what I’m doing and notice him. He hopes that I will play with him, and he hopes that I will choose some of his favorite games. And honestly? I think that he hopes that when I do give him my undivided attention….that it will last a really long time.
I think all dogs are the very essence of hope. One look in Rugby’s eyes, and I can see the hope that’s there….every day….all day long. And when I think of him at home, patiently waiting to hear my car in the driveway….to hear my car door slam, and my key in the door….and then to watch how he explodes with excitement when I walk in the door to him… *sigh* It’s such a great feeling, and such a wonderful mental image to carry with me as I go through my day. It always makes me smile as I think of it.
So after my conversation with my friend, I had to stop and consider….again….what a gift we are given when we have a dog in our lives.
For the snippets of time that I have to train Rugby, or play with him, I’m forced to live in the now…to be fully present in that moment with him. That’s a gift. Sometimes, it can feel like a chore, I won’t lie to you. Every day, I hear people say, “I have to go walk the dog.” “I have to go play with the dog and get him tired.” “I have to go let the dog out.”
But when I change a couple of words in those sentences, the meaning and attitude can completely change! What if we said, “I get to go walk my dog,” or “I get to go play with my dog and wear him out,” or “I get to go let my dog out?” Wow. What a difference, right? Instead of a chore with some random dog, it becomes something of value that I get to do with my very own dog!
And being forced to live in the present…the now with Rugby? That’s a gift. I have to put aside the “To Do” list. I know I can’t multi-task when I’m focused on my sweet guy. It’s an opportunity to simply connect with Rugby…to build a deeper relationship with him through training or in play, and to really enjoy our relationship together. Rugby gives me the gift of putting aside the pressures of work and life, and for those moments in time….I get to play, and relax, and have fun….and just BE!
Rugby doesn’t put expectations on me. I’ve never heard him vocalize disappointment that he didn’t get a different mama. He doesn’t complain about the puzzle I choose to play with him, or the tricks I choose to train. He’s all in, and he’s enthusiastic and excited. His eyes shine with happiness. He always leans into me at the end of a training exercise when I’m giving him a really good loving up. He always lingers for some extra loving, and he usually looks up at me to connect his eyes with mine and communicate how pleased he is that we’re together in that moment.
Our dog’s lives are so very short. We’re blessed to have them for more than ten years, really. On average, probably ten to fourteen years, depending on the breed….some longer, some shorter. I think one of my own focus points for this upcoming year is to really make sure that I stay fully present when I’m interacting with Rugby. He’s such a terrific little guy, and he tries so hard to do the right thing. This might be the very best Christmas gift that I can give to him….365 days this upcoming year.
But how in the world will I wrap it and make it fit into his stocking?