Things I Learned From My Dog
Wisdom comes from the strangest places. In recent weeks I have been learning from Rufus, my dog. I have long been using dogs as examples of good listening skills, and Laugh2Learn even has an improv game, “How to Listen Like Your Dog,” but lately I have come to realize that our canine partners have even more to teach us.
Rufus never gives up hope. Every time someone goes into the kitchen, Rufus gets up from wherever he is sleeping and comes to see what is being prepared and if a crumb will fall to the floor or, even better, someone will share something with him. Hope and optimism are closely related, and optimism is one of the key emotional intelligence skills. We can all learn to remain hopeful and optimistic and, therefore happier. Thank you Rufus for a good example.
Rufus is persistent. Each evening Rufus and I share a bowl of popcorn. I sit and my recliner and he sits at my feet, reminding me that I am to share. Like me he’s not very coordinated, and misses most of the kernels I toss him. Occasionally one will go under the sofa. When all the rest of the popcorn is gone, Rufus will begin to work on retrieving the hidden popcorn. He won’t stop until either he manages to get it out, or he convinces one of us to recover it for him. Which leads me to the next lesson.
Rufus will ask for help. When the popcorn is too far under the sofa for his tongue or paws, he will approach one of us to let us know he needs help. This willingness to ask for and receive help is also a valuable human trait. How many of us are too proud to admit we need help, whether it’s something as minor as assistance carrying something, or as important as seeking professional counseling, we humans can learn from Rufus.
Rufus expresses gratitude. It doesn’t matter how long he has been kept outside, Rufus is always excited to be let in. He doesn’t pout or complain that he was out too long, he simply runs into the house, tail wagging in appreciation. And, it happens every time. He is let out of and into the house several times a day, and each time he is let back in, he lets us know he is grateful. Do we humans express gratitude for the events; for a well cooked meal, a trip to the grocery store, or to the garbage can? Our relationships will be stronger if we remember to be grateful even, or perhaps especially, for small things.
So, here’s to you Rufus. Thanks for the lessons in successful living.