They’re stinky, hairy and slobbery- and no, I’m not talking about your lover. I’m talking about your real partner in life, Mr.Puppy. Dogs, just like children, are mirrors of all that is sweet, innocent, natural, wild, playful and curious in each of us. They can be our greatest teachers, if we just get over the difference in our physical makeup. They don’t speak our language, which means we have the opportunity to truly observe without judgment and listen with an open mind. We can observe as they do, see what they see, and love as they love.
My dog Teddy reminds me every day that it’s important to get out there and keep trucking. He’s magical. He’s taught me to love myself and nurture myself in more ways than one.
Here are some of the most important life lessons my dog has taught me:
1) They Force Us to Get Outside- Dogs love to be outdoors. They need walks and especially love to mark their territory as a symbol of where they’ve been. When we’re avoiding the freezing temperatures outside, they’re the ones who practically strap on the leash and get us off our behinds. They get to explore and we get a healthy dose of fresh air. It’s a win-win.
2) Dogs Live in the Moment- These furry friends are amazing reminders of the power of presence. They seem to quickly forget the hours you left them behind at home as soon as you come in the door. They’re excited to do whatever you’re willing to do, whenever and however that is, and they give their misery a short shelf-life. Not down to play tug of war? No problem. Most pups will move into acceptance and take a nice nap instead. We could learn a lot from their abilities to give up resistance and live life in each moment.
3) They Stay Curious- Do you ever notice how lively dogs become when they find a new tree to sniff or food to taste? If you’ve ever walked a dog, you know they spend what feels like 5 billion hours smelling a tree before they “do the deed.” I imagine Teddy getting a complete picture of all the dogs that have been there before, including their stories, smells and experiences. They're curious. They want to learn. If we stopped and smelled the roses more often, we might also find a new appreciation for life, the universe, and truly learn to explore the present moment.
4) They Teach Us How to Play- Many of us spend countless hours behind a desk, and feel more and more disconnected to the inner child in ourselves as the days come to pass. The truth is, although our bodies may age, underneath it all, our souls have the ability to stay young. We were born to desire experiential play and freedom. Whether it’s with a bone, a piece of string or your new sneakers, dogs receive pure joy from simply playing without limits. Let’s take a note from our pups and incorporate a little playtime into our every day routine- whether it’s running around with our kids, trying out a new yoga pose (and face-planting!), or finger painting in the kitchen—let’s just learn to play and live!
Written By: Eryl McCaffrey
CYA-RYT 200 | Yoga Teacher | Writer | Speaker
Eryl McCaffrey, CYA-RYT 200, is a yoga teacher, wellness writer and public speaker living in Toronto. She's passionate about breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness and believes physical activity can help heal the mind, body and soul. When she's not in her busy mode, you can find Eryl hiking, singing and meditating.