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  • Writer's pictureDenny Balish

Life with Dog

About twelve and a half years ago, I brought a pudgy, little puppy home as a gift for my daughter’s birthday and life with dog began.

Back then, little did I know that not only would this dog become my loyal companion but also my most unorthodox of teachers. The lessons I learned are too many to list in their entirety, but let me share a few.

She taught me the importance of taking walks, no matter the weather, because a body in motion is a body alive.

She taught the value of play, and how just a few minutes of fetch can lift one’s spirits.

She taught me how to take up space, with her astonishing ability to expand her body to several times its normal size; completely taking over all but a small fraction of my side of the bed.

She taught me the lusciousness of a midday nap.

She taught me how to get out of bed in the morning, even on days when hiding from the world seemed like my best option.

She taught me to stop and smell the roses (or trees, in her case), relishing nature for its simple delight.

Although she sniffed abandoned poop, she never, ever stepped in it. This taught me the value of staying out of people’s shit.

When at the crosswalks of life, she taught me that it’s ok to go a different direction and in so doing, discover new, and sometimes surprising things.

When meeting a stranger, she taught me to be curious and expect the best unless shown otherwise. And if shown otherwise, move on. Quickly.

She taught me the importance of letting go; of shaking off my ruff after an unpleasant encounter rather than holding onto it all day long.

She taught me value of forgiveness by harboring no ill will even after I—having had a very bad day—behaved unkindly towards her.

She taught me compassion, sitting sweetly by my side, head bowed, during those moments when I was overcome with grief.

Most of all, my furry shadow taught me the importance of keeping your loved ones near.

As I watch her gray, I see my own mortality in her eyes. Our vision not as sharp as it used to be, both a bit stiffer upon rising, both tiring more easily, especially in the heat.

Yet we, each day, step forward into life, into our routine of daily living. Side by side, continuing until that day when one of us will leave the other. Until then, may I continue to learn from her and her canine ways, and may we enjoy life, relishing every day we are graced to share.

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