Fulfilling our basic human desire for unconditional love is why most people get dogs!  IMG_0005No matter what stress or hardship happened during the day, coming home to a living being that is just beside himself with joy at my arrival can’t help but lift my spirits.  Of course, my dog sometimes is too busy to greet me immediately; he has a very demanding nap schedule. But he always gives a warm welcome to my husband when he comes home at night. My dog recognizes the arrival as part of our work day’s end routine. I don’t want to be a cynic but could the warmth of that reception have something to do with the fact that dinner is next on the schedule?

It’s a little trickier with humans. It is hard to love unconditionally. Even though I think I accept the people in my life as they are, time and time again I realize discord comes from my loved ones not meeting my expectations for their behavior. This Advent I am focusing on my interactions with people. I want to completely avoid being judgmental and make sure everyone feels the unconditional love I have for them. I have always felt that positive reinforcement of the good in people is the only way to change or guide their behavior anyway. So I am working on assuming the best motives in those around me and responding accordingly.

To reach this goal, I am learning from the dogs!

IMG_0757Alicia and Paul’s Golden Retriever is the nervous, loving type. He makes the perfect nanny. He is concerned about the baby’s well being and always requests assistance (read ‘barks’) when he need a creature with opposable thumbs to handle a situation. I am trying to be as attentive as he when playing with my beautiful granddaughter Eliza.

Another trait to emulate is their ability to play with children, without inhibitions. I always thought that my lack of imagination hindered my children’s ability to be creative. When we played together, they came up with far more interesting games than I ever could. I hope my kids don’t adapt my line about my sense of humor I use about my upbringing to explain any gaps in their imaginative skills.(My line: Since only one of my parents had a sense of humor, I am only half as funny as I should be.)

IMG_0274It amuses me when a dog wants to play; I can see it in their faces when they concoct an idea. Usually it is just finding a ball and bringing it over to drop it at my feet. Their joy at retrieving it after I throw it is boundless.  I want to emulate that joi d’vie.

I just hope I don’t get too carried away with this idea of learning from dogs. But, full disclosure, I already have been practicing rolling over with Eliza to help her perfect that skill!

(C) Jane F. Collen December 5, 2015



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