So yeah, there are a lot of "what I have learned from my dog" lists out there, but every dog has his own unique personality... his own "thing". So here is my list. Ten things I have learned from this lovable Border Collie named Buddy:
1. Stop and smell the journey.
We have recently started taking Buddy for walks. On a leash. Out on the paved road. This is relatively new for this free-roaming dog... and he is really starting to get into it. "OH... this is what dogs are supposed to do! Cool!" ;-) He caught on quickly. So this has added a new dimension to our human and dog relationship. The "companion on the path" kind of thing. And we learn from each other in this. Buddy, like all dogs, needs to stop and sniff. We can be clipping along, when suddenly his schnoz grinds us to a halt. My inclination is to tug at his leash and urge him to keep trotting, but as Eric reminds me, dogs need to stop and sniff. It's part of their enjoyment in being "out there". So, yeah... it's OK to want to get to where you are going, but don't miss out on all the juicy little things along the way. And don't just notice them, but get your nose right in there and breathe them in fully! Let the little things fill you completely! Thanks, Buddy. :-)
2. Stay in synch with your walking companion.
As I mentioned in #1, Buddy is really getting the hang of this dog walking thing (or human walking thing... as it sometimes seems). Eric and I take turns holding the leash, and when I'm trailing behind them, I enjoy watching the dynamic that happens. There is a mindfulness of where each is at in regards to pacing and direction. There is a give and take. Buddy may try to speed up or veer off in a slightly different direction, but does so with an awareness of what's going on with Eric and adjusts accordingly. And vice versa. It's almost like each is a personal trainer, looking out for the other's best interest. And isn't that what healthy, loving partnership is all about? Finding the "higher road" together for the greater good?
Buddy doesn't have a water dish outside. Instead, he drinks from a beautiful pond with fish and frogs and plants and algae. All co-existing together. Buddy somehow knows the value of taking nourishment from this perfect, self-sustaining ecosystem. Imagine living in a world like this pond... with healthy, nourishing interdependence. Thank you for the perspective, Buddy.
4. Love and protect fiercely.
Border Collies in particular have an innate instinct to serve and protect. Buddy is no exception. And here, with so much wildlife and open space, he has his work cut out for him. He is tireless in his attempts to stave off coyotes and other possible threats. I often hear him outside our trailer... barking and dashing about. He is a fierce protector. He also greets us when we come home... and herds us safely inside. There is an honorable sense of duty that feels like love, reminding me to cherish who and what I hold dear. And to be clear about how best I can do that.
5. Don't chase cars in the road!
Probably with good intentions (he is a herding dog after all), Buddy has had this thing about wandering off to the road on his own to chase cars. I'm hoping the regular walks on a leash will curb the desire (so far so good), but nonetheless, this is part of Buddy's troubled past... lol. Chasing cars can be self-defeating (not to mention dangerous)! The lesson? Don't chase! Allow the "cars" that are meant to find you to come down your driveway. Otherwise, just let them pass. :-)
6. Know when to go through an open door.
Buddy is primarily an outdoor dog. And there's a lot of dirt and mud outside. So there are places inside that he is not allowed to venture. And he has pretty much had to learn (sometimes the hard way) that just because a door is open, he shouldn't necessarily go through it. He needs to be invited. Lesson: Not all open doors are meant for us. It's best to get clear about which ones are ours to go through. To know when we have an authentic invitation from on high.
Buddy has no qualms about laying right down wherever he is... to rest or to simply enjoy the moment. Often this will be right down on the dirt... or mud even. He's not afraid to get his paws (or the rest of him) dirty. Perhaps he knows this is where much of real life occurs. In the messy places. The raw, unrefined, unkempt parts of ourselves and our world. Enjoying freedom from perfection and appearances. I'll probably be learning this one for a while. ;-)
8. Expose your underbelly every once in a while!
Whenever I greet Buddy, the first thing he does is drop down and roll onto his back. Just like that. So trusting... so open and ready to receive. Completely vulnerable. My energy tells him it's OK. He absolutely knows the reward that awaits. A loving pat on the head and a gentle belly rub. Showing our underbellies now and again can be so healing. We just need to have a good sense of who we can be vulnerable with... to be aware of the energy between each other.
Buddy gets pretty worked up over birds and insects... and airplanes. I kid you not... he barks at airplanes! So I've deduced that he gets excited about anything that flies. He knows that flying is where it's at! Living free and soaring above it all... spreading our wings. Thanks for the reminder, Buddy. To live with our paws in the earth while our spirits soar. Yes!
10. Kiss often... love unconditionally.
Last but not least. It is completely natural for Buddy to love unconditionally. To lavish with face licks and an ever loving gaze. It's not even something he does... it's just what he is. Without the ego that we humans have that can get in the way. A dog has no ego. Just as Spirit has no ego. Again, the DOG-GOD thing. Having Buddy around helps ground me in unconditional love. I will never be as good at giving and receiving it as he is, but what a gift it is to have him around. And I know I'm not alone there. We humans love our canines! It really is a dog's life... we're just lucky to get to share it with them. :-)