Last week, a Facebook friend I have never met, on the other side of the Country, lost one of his dogs. It was very random. One minute everything was fine and then Lucas was gone.
Lucas was the “dog of his heart”.
I lost the “dog of my heart” in 2011. I was sure I would never want another dog; would never want to experience that kind of loss and pain. And then, through a series of circumstances, I tasked a friend to find me a very specific dog. I was so specific in what I was looking for that my friend told me it would take months of scouring the country to find him. I shrugged and said OK…
Four days later, he found my dog.
A month later, Acheron – 16-months old and 110lbs arrived after 10-hours of travel in a crate, from Georgia to Dallas to San Francisco to Hayward. The moment he stepped out of that crate, I knew there was room for another “dog of my heart”.
Everyone knows the saying “Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from my dog”. You hear it. You laugh. Whatever.
Everything I ever needed to know about life I DID learn from my dog.
In all of my specificity, I didn’t ask some basics. Is he leash trained? In what language? Is he crate trained? Does he travel well in a car? Has he ever hung out at a Starbucks? The answer was ultimately no to these and many more.
Ach and I fought for the first six months – not because he was stubborn (he is), or because he didn’t want to please me (I believe he did). We fought because I expected him to “get it”. He didn’t. He had no framework to “get” suburban life. He had spent his first 16 months in rural Georgia.
I had to throw everything I thought I knew out the window. I had to figure out how to break down every simple task into something a puppy could build on…a puppy so big and so strong that he could knock me airborne into a fence if I didn’t get out of his way when he was playing.
The lessons I learned from him in those early months changed how I view most things. I learned patience. I learned to slow down. I learned to manage my expectations of the behavior of those around me. I learned how to create situations made of win.
In essence, I learned the Platinum Rule – treat others how they need to be treated.
The day the light bulb flickered on was almost cartoonish. I could almost see the bulb in a bubble above his head and *poof*, he understood that if he walked at my side, didn’t dart into traffic or try to climb up me when a bus went by, he would get his hearts desire – to go everywhere with me.
Now, he does go everywhere with me. We are a team. We work on the basics of obedience training while continually reaching for the next cool thing for me to teach him and for him to learn.
That is probably the greatest lesson – we have to continue to strive to improve ourselves, continue to learn, and be willing to help others in a way they can receive our help.