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Five Things I Learned from My Dog

My Best Friend

When I left my husband, I also had to leave behind my dog who I had rescued from the side of I-40 in Arizona. I was moving into a very small apartment that only allowed small dogs, and my dog weighed 140lbs.

The days were lonely and I would sit in the bathtub at night and cry for my dog, wondering if he was being treated okay and if he missed me. One bright morning, I decided it was time to get another dog and have a new furry friend to love.  I adopted an eight-month-old lab/ridgeback mix that was sold to me as an adult because she was scheduled to be put down and they wanted her to have a home. I could see why immediately. She was the most loving, funny, loyal little creature I ever met. She was my first small dog and my first female.

My new dog kept her name, Tauri, and I added a middle name; Josephine.  Tauri Jo is going on 13 now and I wanted to share the lessons she had imparted on me over the past 12 years.

1) Always show your love fully.

Dogs are the most forgiving, loyal creatures on the face of the earth. When I have had to leave Tauri alone for a few hours to shop or go to the doctor, I always received the biggest, best welcome home anyone could ask for, even if I'm late. She would practically smile and dance around in circles, jumping up, and then running in the other direction. She also went through the same scenario if I had only been gone five minutes. It felt so good to know that somewhere on this earth there was a living soul who truly loved me that much.

I thought about all the times my ex would come home and I kept on doing what I had been doing without any greeting at all. It must have made him feel unimportant in my life, and I will never do that to another person again.

2) Please extinguish that cigarette!

I didn't start smoking until I was in my 40s and only then because it was the only way to catch a break when I was working. So, I started out small and then got involved with my ex who was a chain smoker at the time. I soon became one as well but not after I got Tauri. Every time I would reach for the pack of cigarettes she would give me soulful eyes and look back and forth at the pack and me. If I lit up, she would put her paw over her nose and glare at me the whole time. I felt so guilty I had to put it out. She may have saved me.

3) Unconditional Love

What is unconditional love? It's loving someone in spite of their faults. It's loving someone even though you know they aren't perfect. It's the way my dog always loved me, with no thought of anything I ever did wrong, all she did was love me no matter what. As humans, we tend to judge and treat people a certain way depending on those judgments. My dog never judged, she just loved.

4) It's okay to play.

I grew up in a very strict home in the sense that whatever our parents told us to do we did. Usually, that meant sitting with our hands folded and listening to classical music, not what two energetic young girls of four and six wanted to be doing. My dog taught me how to play. She would be in the park and a big water puddle was her playground. She would run through the water splashing and attacking the water, almost smiling as she did so. I envied her the ability to be able to fully let go and have fun, but as the time went on I began to play with her around the house and we would have the best time! I felt like a free child, and she made that happen.

5) How to let go.

Tauri is aging, and last week I found a mast cell tumor on her stomach by her back left leg. This is her second tumor, and the last one was not nearly as big as this one. I dread losing my dog, but I trust in God that if her work is done here and it's time to go, that it is for her good because she is such a beautiful soul. I don't want her to suffer is all. She looks at me with those big brown eyes and I can see the concern in them. Concern for me that I will be okay without her. I have learned from her how to let go, so I pet her on the head and tell her everything is going to be okay.

And everything will be. When my time comes and I cross over, my Tauri girl will be there waiting for me, and in the meantime, she will get to run through beautiful grass and sniff flowers, chase butterflies, and smell beautiful clean air. She will have energy again and be able to run through the water. And in her heart, she will hold me, and in my heart, I will hold her.

Denise Willis
Denise Willis

I have a bachelors degree in accounting, and a masters degree in psychology, but art and writing have always been my love.  I have three grown sons, and recently, I finished a novel of around 200 pages finally posted to Amazon.

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