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Life Lessons from My Dog

I’ve written about my dogs, Ella and Mala, before and have shared some pearls of wisdom that I’ve picked up from them over the years such as: unleash your joy wholeheartedly; enjoy the journey and take time to pause for the vistas; live in the moment; be curious about the world around you; get plenty of sleep and stretch when you rise; and trust your instincts. All great lessons that have served me well.

Ella is 12.5 years old now, and while she can still look puppy-ish when she holds her ears forward, she’s starting to show her age with more grey in her muzzle and a little less speed in her trot. Grey fur is not the only thing that comes with age; Ella has a whole new set of wisdom to share with us in her later years. Excuse my language, but John and I call it her “I don’t give a f@$k” attitude. She does what she wants, and almost dares us to challenge her.

Ella has always been food motivated, but these days, she doesn’t only try to steal when we are not looking, she will make an effort right in front of us. When I’m watering the raised bed garden in the backyard, she puts her paws up on the edge and sniffs around for something ready to be picked. She openly goes for the cat food whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Ella has a mind of her own. She is mostly on leash when we are walking, but on hikes in areas where dogs can be off leash, she trots along at her own speed without worry. If I get too far behind, she’ll still stop and glance back to be sure I’m safe, but when she wants to stop and sniff something, she does it without concern of how far behind she falls.

In the past four years, I’ve changed Ella’s life significantly by adding two cats, another dog and a husband to our home that was just the two of us for a long time. She is sure to let us all know that she is the queen of the house and doesn’t have to accept these new comers. She has elected to welcome John with open paws, but not so much for the other four-legged family members.

While frustrating at times, Ella’s “don’t give a f@$k” behavior is a great reminder to be yourself without apology. We are all unique and special (kings and queens in our own right), and don’t need to modify who we are just to make others comfortable. Which reminds me of a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Words that Ella certainly lives by, as we all should.

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