Living life like a dog

Another year has come and gone. I assume the older a person gets, the faster time seems to pass, and we are reminded of the fleeting amount of time we are alive.

Our entire community recently lost a valuable asset with the passing of Mark Lee, founder of Mozzi’s Pizza. Mark was an amazing man.

While talking to one of my probation officers, he said it’s too bad we are not more like animals. Animals live in the moment and don’t worry about death, unlike humans.

I think he’s right. Animals learn from the past but don’t relive it. They plan for the future — storing food for the winter, building nests for babies — but don’t fear it. After hearing this, I thought, “No matter how old I get, I am never too old to learn new lessons.”

Part of me wishes I could have learned this earlier, but I think I had to live long enough to appreciate the magic and joy in life. Life is challenging, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. I see it as an opportunity for growth.

I am reminded of some of the animals we’ve had through the years. Animals’ company can be healing because they don’t judge. Our animals love us, even if we don’t love ourselves. When an animal is sitting with us, they aren’t busy thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. They are simply there, living in the moment.

I remember when my son and his best friend came dragging home Izzy, our Doberman. The first day they brought her home, she got stuck under our deck. Kyle and his friend said they’d pry up a board, but they took out a few and naturally busted one. But Izzy was saved. They promised to fix the broken board, but tragedy struck my son’s best friend. Kyle has offered to fix that board many times, but I won’t let him. It’s a great memory of how the boys were living in the moment.

Not long ago, my wife decided she wanted another dog. She saw a picture of a cute dog at Greenfield Hancock Animal Management and decided to go there the next day. I knew the trial period was going to be difficult when I sat down beside that dog, and she viciously attacked my ear with doggy kisses. I told Carrie she was vicious, and we weren’t keeping her.

Now every single day, Maggie works her way up to sit on my lap when I’m watching TV. Then she attacks my ear with those big doggy kisses.

I think those two dogs have taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Connect with others: I have learned that my dogs need connection daily. They need love, time and attention. When we stay connected with others, it feeds our soul and helps us alive longer.

2. Live for today: We can spend time on regrets and worries, but I’ve learned the solution will not be found that way. Dogs live for today — and so can we. We can appreciate every moment as it comes and be grateful for what we have.

3. Forgive: It seems my pets don’t hold a grudge or worry about what happened yesterday. Forgiveness gives us back our power, as we regain the ability to move on with our lives. I work with probationers who simply want forgiveness from me. I know they appreciate it when I give it to them.

4. Find your purpose: I work with many people who wonder why they were placed on earth. Sometimes we lose our way and our purpose. The same is true for dogs. When dogs are given a job and contribute to the well-being of others, they feel satisfied. Izzy loves to bark at strangers; hey, that’s her thing, but it makes her feel important. Maggie, well, I am not so sure. As humans, we need to find our purpose as well. My probationers need purpose, and most of them find it.

5. Make every day special: Sometimes we can get swallowed up in routine. Have you ever noticed how a dog finds everyday life exciting? We can learn so much by observing our pets’ enthusiasm for the simple things.

Every day can be special for us as well, if we take the time to look.

Have you mastered the skill of living in the moment? How did you do it?