10 Life Lessons I Learned from my Dog(s)

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane


Dogs know stuff. Sometimes I believe they carry souls who are on a higher level of existence than we are because they have the secret to being happy. I’ve learnt so much from my old poop that transfers over, like the need for a proper diet guide for older dogs, and funnily enough, the same applies to older people too! In fact as a little treat for me old poop I’ve been thinking about getting him one of those heated dog beds. Ive seen some really great reviews online. But without further ado, here are 10 things I have learned from my dog(s).

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Sancho – walking trouble


1.) Wake up every morning as if each day is an adventure – I am reminded of this every morning times TWO. My dogs love their rituals and seeing me is top of their list, it would seem. At least they make me feel special. And isn’t that important for everyone?

2.) Carrying grudges is for cats – Dogs might get scolded for something, but two seconds later they are back with enthusiasm. A short term memory and a brain the size of a walnut helps, but I believe dogs know that carrying around negative thoughts weighs down your heart and life is too short for that.

3.) All you need is the fur on your back – Dogs can pick up and go without taking a toothbrush. Yeah, they may have their toys, but they are perfectly able to share them with others. They are self-sufficient and know what’s truly important. Material possessions take a backseat to the people they love.

4.)Be loyal and love unconditionally – If you ever have a bad day, go play with your dog. They always know when you need a little love, because they dispense it all the time and in every way. They never hold back their affection. Even if you feel you might not deserve it, they will always love you with sloppy wet kisses.

5.) Make friends – My dogs are ALWAYS ready to make new friends. They see a dog walking down the street and they are pulling at their leash to say HELLO. For this to apply to humans, I would dispense with the butt sniff, but that’s just me. Maybe your neighborhood is different.

6.) Having a little discipline gets you stuff – Dogs may not feel the need for discipline, but they know it gets them stuff. Think of your daily word count as something worthy of a treat. The sooner you get it done, the quicker you’ll get that sweet morsel of accomplishment and know that you’ve earned it.

7.) When loved ones come home, greet them with a grin and a butt wag – Dogs don’t take ANYONE for granted. Anyone walking through their door is someone to play with and love. There is nothing wrong with that.

8.) Let people touch you – Who doesn’t need a good head pat or butt scratch? Enough said.

9.) Run, romp, and play daily – My dogs NEVER have a bad day. Ever. When was the last time you truly had a BANG ON splendid day from start to finish? Well multiply that by 24/7/365 and you’ve really got something.

10.) If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it – Dogs have single-minded persistence when it comes to the things they truly want. They focus and they dig until they score. They trust their instincts to know it’s there and a little hard work is nothing when it comes to something that makes you happy.

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Taco – my sweet girl




There are many more things I could write. I have two rescue dogs and they both teach me different things, but I’d like to hear from you. What has your dog taught you?

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One Life That Still Touches Me

I was remembering our old dog, Feliz, the other day after I had found her collar in a box and wanted to share something that I had written to get past the profound sorrow of losing her.

Feliz had passed from this life after sixteen years of sharing her love. And as we knew it would, her death broke our hearts. Grief manifests itself in many ways. We still hear the click of her nails on tile, still see her shadow at the door, and we still linger at the garage, waiting for her to show and claim a biscuit. All of these moments are products of our wishful thinking and old habits are hard to deny, but it’s amazing how well she trained us. And if Stephen King’s story in Pet Sematary were true, we’d gladly welcome her back to this life, even if she were the spawn of Satan. That’s how much we loved her. She would always enjoy her dog playpen. If you wanted to learn more about dog playpens check out this guide on dog playpens.

Her full name was Feliz Navidog. Yes, she was a Christmas present, but not for us. We had given her to my parents with the caveat that if they truly didn’t want a puppy, they could return her to us. And within two weeks, back she came. In hindsight, she was the best present we ever got. We nearly called her Boomerang, but in Spanish, the word Feliz translates to ‘happy’ and that suited her just fine. She always had a smile on her face.

When she was a pup, she had a dark muzzle, one ear up and one down, a curled tail and an unfaltering bounce to her step. People often asked us what breed she was. In truth, she was a German Shepherd Chow mix, but we lovingly called her a “Somma Dog”—because she was somma dis, somma dat. But one man’s mutt is another man’s idea of perfection.

And Feliz had many admirable skills, despite her questionable lineage.

She was a practitioner of puppy telepathy, transmitting her thoughts to us with a meaningful stare. And she spoke the language of human beings with unfailing accuracy, developing an extensive vocabulary. Balancing a biscuit on the end of her nose then tossing it into her mouth had become her signature move. And in later years, she mastered sign language when her hearing was failing. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I remember we bought her one of the best dog strollers and used to push her around the village when she was getting older. I have such great memories of her.

And every morning of her life—without fail—she awoke for the sole purpose of pleasing us. We saw it in her face and felt it on her warm wet tongue. She never tired of the routine or the mundane, even after her joints got stiff and her eyesight grew dim—because in her mind, she was always that puppy with a bounce in her step. Luckily we had read some pet insurance reviews and bought some pet insurance, since vet bills can get pretty expensive. She was totally worth all the costs though.

Dogs remind us that love should be unconditional. And in their world, friendships begin with a well-placed and unerring sniff—completely devoid of an ulterior motive or personal agenda. If you pass the sniff test, you’re in. No cover charge and no membership fee. And with a mere wag of a tail, a dog can make you smile and lift your spirits. We can all learn from them—because their love comes from a higher place.

I’d love for you to share your pet stories. Do you have a favorite pet?

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New dog on the block



We adopted a dog this week (I say “we”, but the driving force was me. My husband just went with the flow). He’s a big black lab mix who goes by the name Macintosh. Mac’s a rescue dog. He was sprung during a raid on a terrible kennel last month, along with 60 other emaciated, mangy dogs. The bust made the news here in LA. He was painfully thin, with patchy fur. This poor guy has traveled a rough road.

Despite all his troubles, Mac remains a loving and gentle soul. He has enormous, soulful brown eyes.  If you haven’t paid attention to him in a while, he’ll tap you with a paw, or rest his chin on your lap.

I’m not a natural “pack leader,” but I know it’s important to project calm, alpha dog qualities with a new dog. So before I picked up Mac from the rescue group I started watching Cesar Millan’s “The Dog Whisperer.” It’s magical what that guy does with dogs–more specifically, what he does with their owners. Dogs are amazingly consistent and logical in their behavior–it’s the humans who are neurotic. I picked up Mac yesterday and have been practicing some of Milan’s techniques; by golly, they’re working. For example, the foster mom who’d been caring for Macintosh said he had a tendency to pull on the leash, but I’ve been able to get him to walk like a perfect gentleman.

In a recent episode of “The Dog Whisperer”, Cesar visited the home of John Grogran, who wrote Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, the mega-bestselling series about a family’s experiences with their lab. There was a funny moment when Cesar and Grogan were commenting on how much they loved each other’s books. On camera you see a moment of mutual admiration between two men who share a love of dogs. As writers of nonfiction, they seemed like soul mates.

That made me wonder who my writing soul mate would be. I’d like to think it would be Dean Koontz–his stories have always inspired me, plus he loves dogs (especially Golden Retrievers, I’ve heard).  I’ll be on a panel at Literary Orange this April, and he’ll be the keynote speaker. So I’m looking forward to meeting him then.

How about you? Who would your writing soul mate be, and have you ever met him or her? And what’s your fave canine?

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