The Dog Teacher

We have a dog staying with us for a few days while some friends of ours are out of town. Our own dog passed last December, and it’s nice to “have” a dog again.

This dog’s name is Brody, and he’s teaching me quite a bit (reminding me and modeling for me are probably two better ways of putting it).

Here’s what he does:

He eats when he’s hungry, he drinks when he’s thirsty, he sleeps when he’s tired, and goes outside when he wants to be outside.

When he wants to play, he goes and gets his toy. When he wants to look around, he gets up and explores. When he wants to rest in comfort, he climbs up on the couch and lays his head on the puffy armrest.

When he wants to be with you, he comes over and lays down near you. If he wants attention, he stands or sits, and stares at you until you look at him. Then he wags his tail and you get to pat him on the side.

Lots of people would say “that dog has the life!” and in many ways he does.

But we can too if we are watching and learning, remembering.

Brody doesn’t sulk if I tell him to get his paws off the counter. He doesn’t ruminate over how many hours he’s inside instead of outside.

He doesn’t let the stories of his past as the runt of the litter define his potential. He doesn’t keep his happiness locked up behind the memories of his health challenges.

Brody, like most all animals (with the notable exception of humans), lives in the present moment.

Every moment is not just a chance for renewal, it IS a renewal.

He lives with a sense of curiosity about his environment.

He operates with flexibility and ease because his mind is not running around getting attached to who he thinks he is.

He just IS who he is.

Without regard for those who don’t like Poodle Retriever mixes, or dogs with names that start with “B,” or even those who don’t like dogs, period.

Not feeling inferior or strange or different because he’s not purebred, or because his hair gets shaggy, or because he drinks his water so politely.

Brody just IS who he is.

How much easier would life be for all of us if we could do the same.

We could feel pain without holding grudges, we could experience loss without regret, we could handle change without overthinking.

We could navigate our own existences based on who we ARE, not on what our parents wanted us to be, or who we thought we would’ve been, or what our families, culture, media, political party, or religion say we should be.

The critics might say, “Sure, but Brody is a dog. He doesn’t posses sophisticated language systems, or the capacity for rational thought beyond his material needs and wants. He doesn’t have an identity, so to speak, and he can’t have social awareness.”

And they may well be right, but I would say they’re missing the point.

Detachment and the resultant freedom are possible for us, if we choose more and more to be whoever we really ARE.

Beside being possible, I would even say that if one sets their course in that direction with full sincerity, the results are inevitable.

Soon our time with Brody will end, but the reminders he embodies can last.

Even as I share those reminders with you.