When I first got my Pomeranian puppy Chinzie, I never knew I was looking at the most loyal, lovable companion of my life. For 17 years, she gave me more love and joy than I had ever known. Here are 7 lessons I learned from her.
1. Dogs connect through touch: If Chinzie wants me to pet her, she’ll shove her face under my hand until it’s time for a nice dog massage. Dogs love to be petted because it reminds them of the attention they got from their moms. Touch feels good, both for humans and animals. Your dog will always let you pet her. Even if I’m always busy, just a quick moment with my dog makes me feel better right away, and makes me feel more connected.
2. Dogs never judge you: My Pomeranian puppy never ceased in her loyalty, acceptance and unconditional love. Even in the worst times, when significant others were coming and going, she’d always be there. When I broke down in tears after I got laid off, Chinzie was by my side. When I injured my foot trying too hard at barefoot running, Chinzie was there for me.
3. Dogs teach you how to put things in perspective: Chinzie only cared about mealtime and when she was getting attention. She was completely carefree otherwise. But on the other hand, I would fret about whether I was getting her the best dog food or when she would get sick. I learned that sometimes just letting things happen the way they are meant to be is the best way to go.
Beyond their incredible ability to let things go, dogs seem to have a way of understanding us. They see how we stress over the small stuff, but they never do.
4. Dogs tell it like it is: When she wanted to go outside, she would paw at the door until I opened it. When she wanted to play, she would dump a toy in my lap. There are no mind games, no guessing at what she wants, no passive aggressive ploys. Dogs can’t speak, but they can communicate much better than humans sometimes.
5. Dogs always forgive: Chinzie didn’t like me going to work. She didn’t like it when I had a headache. She also didn’t like it when I kept her out of the trash. But in spite of all these things, she still loved me — and always forgave. She would be sad for a bit, but then come right back with me. She taught me how to forgive, too — because she’d chew up my manuscripts and clothes. But that stuff never mattered in the end. All that really mattered was how happy she made me, and I think she felt the same way.
Some of my friends who also had dogs told me that being able to forgive the way their pets could taught them to have better physical, emotional and spiritual lives. Dogs are almost always friendly and ready to please. How many of us could say the same?
6. Dogs adapt: My Pom was adopted from an animal shelter. She had been taken off the streets and was very sick with respiratory infections as soon as I got her. As time passed, she got better. When I got a second dog, she was pretty unhappy, but after a few weeks she immediately got used to him. She once used to growl at him, but now wants to play. I thought she wouldn’t be able to handle a “sibling” but I was dead wrong — she adapted right away and even embraced the change in ways that humans find much more difficult.
Dogs have senses that are way sharper than ours as humans. Their smell is better, and sometimes they see things we don’t. They also have ways to communicate non-verbally. They have an enormous ability to adapt to new situations.
7. Losing a dog is the hardest thing imaginable: When Chinzie had to be put down, I didn’t think I was going to make it. She saw my best and worst times and was always there. Through addiction, achievement, betrayal and despair, she was there.
Even though I had to say goodbye, she was never really gone. She lived a great and happy life and gave so much joy to everyone she met. She taught me to adapt, to thrive and most importantly — to live.
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