Dogs. There's a reason we call them man's best friend. We can learn so many things from a dog's behavior, personality, demeanor, resiliency, and most importantly, the willingness to provide their family members with unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship down to their very last breath.
You come in the door from a long day's work. The dog doesn't judge you; he doesn't care how you're dressed or if you've just had a really bad day. No matter the situation, your dog is happy to see you. You are greeted with the same enthusiasm each and every time you walk in that door. A dog has the ability to live in the present moment. They don't regret the past or worry about the future. If we can learn to appreciate and focus on what's happening in the here and now, we'll experience a richness of living.
In the presence of a dog, somehow, nothing else matters. A dog is handing out pure love, sparing no expense, and asking absolutely nothing in return. There's consistency, love, and the beauty of life at its finest.
Dogs have the ability to sense what's really going on. Many of us have lost touch with this all-important instinctual part of who we are. By paying attention to nonverbal cues such as body language and energy, we can learn more about our friends, our loved ones, and ourselves.
Dogs don't hold grudges. There's a remarkable lack of conflict in dog packs. That's because members resolve the situation when disagreements arise, then move on. Imagine what our world would be like if we dealt with all conflicts before they escalated out of control. Holding onto negative feelings tends to make them multiply and prevent us from moving forward.
When dogs are bored, they develop issues ranging from anxiety to aggression. But when given a job and a way to contribute to the pack's well-being, they turn around almost immediately. We all have an innate need to work for food and water. Ask yourself how you can contribute more to your job, your family, and the world around you. You'll feel much better about yourself if you earn your food and water, too.
I've had many dogs; several of which include an English mastiff named Gus, a German shepherd named Tinkerbell, a lab named Toasty, and a bichon frise.
One night, the Flyers had a Saturday night game in St. Louis, and we got our asses kicked. We chartered a plane home and got back at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. I arrived at my house and made my way upstairs to the bedroom. At the time, I had the 200-pound mastiff Gus. I was preparing to get into bed as I noticed Gus sleeping on my side with his back to my wife. His head was like the size of a horse's head, smack in the middle of my pillow. He stared up at me with his big, brown eyes, and I said, "Gus, off the bed. I'm tired." Nothing happened. He didn't move an inch; didn't even blink. He just stared back at me. It was like he was telling me, "You sleep on the floor tonight." Again, I said, "Gus, I had a lousy night. We got our asses kicked. Get off the bed." He looked right back at me and growled. At that point, my wife had to get up and pull him off the bed because there was no way I was going to continue to disturb him. A little while after I got comfortable, he decided to sneak (as quietly and gently as a 200-pound dog could possibly sneak) back in between us.
We had Gus and our little 6-pound, snowball bichon frise at the same time … and of course, both of them slept in bed with us. One night, we heard a noise downstairs. The bichon ran like hell right downstairs to check out the scene, followed by my wife. Me and Gus? We stayed in bed. The girls had it covered.
Tinkerbell, my German shepherd, would take a nap with me before every home game. It was our routine, our ritual. It was comforting and soothing.
Each and every dog that I brought into my home was unique, had its very own personality, and affected my life profoundly. I've had some of the greatest relationships and life lessons learned with my dogs; Unconditional love, living in the moment, loyalty.
Sometimes, we get caught up in so many things, but you're never lonely when there's a dog around. When I need a good laugh or some therapy, I think about the times I've spent with my family, including my dogs because they were members of our family, and I laugh. They are so fun.
For a dog, every morning is Christmas morning. Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, and every game is the best game. We can learn so much by observing the way our pets rejoice in life's simplest moments. Take time every day to celebrate the many gifts that are hidden in the ordinary events of your own life.
I'm going on 16 months writing these articles for Philly.com and not a day goes by that I haven't gotten positive feedback from my readers. I'm truly grateful for the opportunity given to me to share my philosophies and outlook on life with my fans, but I'd like to switch the platform and make my articles more interactive with my readers. I welcome any questions on sports/life/current events/relationships/etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll randomly choose two questions to feature in my bi-weekly articles on Philly.com. We'll call this "Ask Bernie."