Everybody loves Lanie. It is true. Come over to my neighborhood and ask someone where Lanie lives and they will point to my home. She is part Border Collie, part Mountain Bernese and there is some Great Pyrenees there as well. But Lanie is one hundred percent friendly. So friendly that she loves to greet people by standing on her hind legs and giving folks a hug.
I read this anonymous quote recently and loved it “My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.”
At this point, you might be rolling your eyes and saying “Get a grip, woman. We have pets too and ours are very special and there is no need to write an entire blog post about her.” So let me make my case, tell you what I have learnt and you tell me what you think (and this is my third post about Lanie).
1. Barking a lot gets you nowhere
So Lanie is all of 18 months old, with fur as black as the night and as white as snow. I wrote a year back about our family training program where we went off to PetSmart to get the girl trained. We were taught a whole bunch of commands and were given strict instructions on being strict. We followed a few, then let our instincts take over. What Lanie figured out early on was that it is not necessary to talk a lot or make a lot of noise. She barks once when she wants to go out and she will bark once when she wants to come back inside. She has us trained. So I am trying to see how I can imitate that by telling my kids everything once. It hasn’t worked so far but I haven’t given up hope. Jokes aside, repetition, a loud voice and anger don’t work as effectively as being able to state something and stick by it.
2. Make the first move
I don’t say this because I am biased which I am when it comes to Lanie but the fact is she is a beautiful dog. But what draws people to her is not her looks but her friendly nature. Lanie will go up to strangers and greet them. She sits on the driveway and sunbathes. Yes it is a dog’s life. So full of hardship. All that sunbathing, eating, sleeping, snoring….So that is what Lanie does, she waits for folks to walk past and then goes up to them right in front of our home and greets them. She makes the first move and there have been times when the gesture has been rejected and Lanie also knows to stay away from those people as well. But she doesn’t let rejection rule her basic love of people. She now has regular friends (humans and furry ones) who will come by with treats for her. This christmas, Lanie got little treat bags from our neighbors.
It is interesting how many of us are too shy or too intimidated to make the first move. Our fear of rejection almost always prevents us from expressing what is on our mind. Being stingy with compliments is one form. Being reticent to say thanks is another. In both cases, it doesn’t cost anything but the returns are multifold. I am always surprised how we also judge others by their appearance alone and come to definitive conclusions.
3. Saying sorry like you mean it
Oh that dog knows how to apologize and when she does it, she makes sure you know how sorry she is. Of course, that doesn’t mean she is not going to chew your favorite shoe again. Dogs can’t talk back which is probably why we love them even more. When Lanie is contrite she makes us feel like making amends immediately and then feeling guilty that we reprimanded her in the first place.
Sadly we don’t like that word too much. We associate an apology with the loss of power. Many times we don’t accept the error. Many times we accept it but will not admit it. Many times we say it half heartedly just as protocol so we can move on and out of the deep ditch. Few are the times when we apologize like we mean it, take full accountability and hopefully try to make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.
4. Happiness is chasing a squirrel
Sometimes when I work from home, I look out of my window and see Lanie playing with Frisco, the gorgeous Labrador next door. They run around, play fight, argue over a toy and sometimes just sit down exhausted, content to just be in each other’s company. That might last all of five minutes and immediately after, Frisco leaves to go back to his home and Lanie doesn’t spend time crying, she goes off to chase a squirrel or something else that has her attention. This applies to all animals. I wouldn’t state the overstated “live in the present” mantra but will say that they enjoy being in their skin.
Happiness is where you find it. If you actively seek it in your everyday life, even when there are dark clouds hovering above, it is the torch you carry inside you that tells you that our moments flee all too fast.
5. There is only one of you.
Lanie doesn’t worry that she is not a Chihuahua or a mountain lion. She leaves the neurosis to the human kind. She doesn’t compare herself to other dogs or worry that they live in bigger houses or have designer collars. Lanie does what she does best. She wakes up, goes out, greets people, puts a smile on our face, eats her food, sleeps wherever she wants. She knows how to show you how much she loves you. She might have nightmares and she snores like an old man, but she is not worried about wrinkles or diets. She doesn’t worry if you don’t like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. She has no Klout score but see if she cares. Lanie just is.
I was listening to David Whyte who says “Nature is unashamedly itself. A dog doesn’t question his identity. As human beings we have this extraordinary ability not only to not be ourselves but to pretend to be someone else and to hang a mask over our real identity. We can even take it further and forget that we have masked ourselves and sadly over time, we become the mask itself.”