I think most of us know that a typical New Year’s resolution may be dumped in a matter of days or weeks with little thought about it a few months from now. My intention with these few paragraphs is to inspire you to commit to one very specific type of New Year’s resolution; not so much for you, but for your dog. See here is the thing, the dark scary thing that I don’t like to think about, yet I do almost every single day; Our beloved dogs simply do not live that long. We forget this painful truth daily as we are overstimulated with world around us. Here’s why you should think about it. What if you only had 10-15 years to live? Or less?! You would likely choose to only allow certain things to occupy your mind, time, and life. You would savor the little things that go unacknowledged and unappreciated in a world where time was abundant.
There is something that I see on a daily basis that hurts my heart. People are out walking their dogs and they're either texting or talking on their phone. There is no connection whatsoever between dog and handler. I can promise you with every cell in my body, that when your dog’s time is up you will regret not squeezing every single moment of joy out of the time you had together. The hours upon hours we waste on social media and other things may seem fulfilling at the time, but you have the greatest gift right in front of you that can make you laugh, feel accepted or “liked”. Just look at them. Look how resilient and happy they are, for no reason. I get emotional thinking that my dogs are not going to be here forever. But instead of dwelling in sadness, I use it as motivation. The only time I am on my phone when I am out with them (within reason) is to record or photograph their most adorable moments so I can cherish them forever. Of course we need to work from our phones to communicate and your dog doesn't need attention 24/7. But let’s be real; we are mindlessly looking at dumb shit on the internet too frequently. Save that for the toilet and be present when you are with your dog.
Dogs innately know how to relish every moment here on earth much more so than we do. They know how to let an uncomfortable incident go and move on from things that stress them. They are so eager to explore, adventure and learn. They don’t complain and they greet the same day-to-day things with boundless enthusiasm. Worrying about the future is not something they are even capable of and I envy them for that. They are our greatest teachers, personal comedians and companions. They are our ultimate cuddle buddies and mood enhancers. They improve our quality of life on earth so immensely that it’s impossible for us to picture life without dogs. Make your New Year’s resolution to live your best life with your best friend. Enroll them in that obedience or agility class you’ve always wanted to take. Start running or hiking with them regularly. Teach those tricks. Make your daily walks a bit longer and more adventurous. Call a dog trainer for help with behavior problems you have been struggling with so you can live a more fulfilling life together.
I am endlessly thankful for the simplistic, meaningful moments they share with us on a daily basis. They would take way more of those moments if we were more aware of creating them. We pass up so many of those opportunities because our brains are enticed into focusing on other things. Prioritize. Give your dog more time and be more present in the time you are sharing with them this year and your entire lives. You will both be better for it. Happy New Year!
Kerry Hall is the owner of Flash Dog Training in the Denver, CO area. She is a Certified Canine Specialist and Behavior Consultant who specializes in behavioral issues and off-leash training.