5 Things My Dog Teaches Me ~ by Mike O’Connor

We brought Daisy home when she was 8-weeks old.

A white Staffordshire bull-terrier puppy, with the softest fur, occasional faint blue/grey spots across her coat and sweet puppy breath.

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She slept in my arms on the car journey home, snuggled in a blanket and my little family (consisting of me, one wife, one son, two daughters and our Jack Russell cross pooch, welcomed her into our house and hearts with wide open arms.

Two years later and Daisy has been, and continues to be, an absolute joy. A sometimes noisy, smelly, farting, messy, funny and loving creature that enriches our days and loves us with everything she has. Simply put, life is better with a dog or two. Right?

So, here’s some of the things she has taught me…

  1. Physical Touch is So Important.

Daisy likes to be close. She likes to cuddle, snuggle up, sniff, kiss and play with her people. Her instinct is to be close to her loved ones and she never misses a chance to lay her head on a lap, cuddle close when it’s nap time or have a good fun workout via the age-old mechanism of tug-of-war.

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I’ve read that Touch could properly be regarded as a form of nutrition and I agree. In fact if it is true, then Daisy’s constant affection is literally helping to keep her family emotionally happy and healthy. I’m blessed in that I live in a house filled with affection and ‘I love you’s’ and so Daisy’s love is literally the icing on our cake.

2. Walking is Wonderful.

I’m a middle-aged man who only recently started training with weights but do little to no cardiovascular exercise. In fact, if I didn’t take Daisy for a stroll, the limit of my heart strengthening ‘exercise’ would be walking from the car to the office and back again. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the outdoors, enjoy nature and like to walk. It’s just that without a Dog I would never seem to get around to doing it.

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With Daisy by my side (and Roxy our Jack Russell) we cross fields, walk the streets, tramp through woods and bask in fields when the weather allows.

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I’ve stopped and spoken with so many other dog owners, lovely people who live close to me, who I never would have met without the Dogs needing their walk. I’ve walked, explored, got lost, actually exercised via running round a field and generally had the fresh air and trees soothe my very soul. Again, Daisy’s canine ‘lifestyle’ is helping me to be healthy.

3. Laughter (Fun) Truly is the Best Medicine.

Are you like me? Do you find Dogs funny? Because I really do.

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Daisy’s antics make me and the rest of the family laugh out loud regularly. In particular, if I’ve failed on point two above and not walked her, she gets the ‘zoomies’. Dog zoomies, or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPS) as they’re technically called, tickle my funny bone. Daisy will spin in circles for a bit, chasing her tail, and then explode forward into a full on gallop round the garden. Tail tucked, with ears back, she sprints in the grass like she her self is being chased by the hounds of hell. First she charges one way at top speed and then she goes another. Meanwhile I’m giggling and truly enjoying her performance.

Daisy also has explosive ‘gas’ from time to time, especially if she has been given too many treats. Naughty, I know, but who could resist her? Anyway, we’ll all be sat on the sofas watching TV and she’ll silently fart something so powerful, so completely overwhelming compared to anything my wife, children and I have ever smelt before, that our reactions will switch between horror, shocked laughter and back again.

Basically, Daisy make us laugh. She makes us happy.

4. It’s Not About How You Look.

Daisy’s gentle love to me in no way depends on who I am, who I know, what I’ve achieved, what I believe or how I look. She has no understanding of any of that any and, as such, her lack of judging leaves her with, in my opinion, the very purest form of love to give. She simply loves me because I am her friend, her family and her fellow pack member.

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She doesn’t care, or even notice, if I’m wearing fashionable clothes or any clothes at all. It matters not a jot to her if  or if I’ve brushed my hair. I don’t actually have enough hair to brush, but you get the point. Daisy doesn’t mind if I’m wearing my ridiculous evening comfy clothes. Likewise, Daisy isn’t all that bothered about how she looks either. Our canine girl is free of the pressure to conform, to look the part or be someone/something. Instead she takes each day as it comes and each person as they are. I think there’s some real wisdom in that.

5. There’s NOTHING Wrong With Taking it Easy.

I know some of you reading this feel guilty if you don’t do something with your free time. Perhaps you see ‘doing nothing’ as an actual waste of your time. I don’t see it that way personally and neither does our family pooch.

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“He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” —Benjamin Franklin

Whether in a field or laid on a sofa, Daisy enjoys (and helps me to enjoy) the beautiful art of doing nothing. Sometimes, when the family home is quiet, I watch her closely. She rests with real commitment to the task at hand. Long yawns and leisurely washing her paws are followed by slow deep breathing as she falls asleep. She knows how to take it easy, to get real rest and, as long as her basic needs are met, she is entirely free of the urge to do more, to produce more, to get more things done. More, more, more? How about less, less, less?

It’s worth mentioning here that deep relaxation has many scientifically proven benefits —it can decrease blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems.

Don’t feel guilty, please, resting is good for you. Just ask Daisy.

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