What Pets Can Teach Us

Pets have a special place in our hearts.  They spend each and every day with us and see us in the highs and lows of life.  If you watch them closely, they can teach us a lot about life.  Here are three life lessons that I’ve learned from observing my dog, Stevie.

Lesson number one.

What is the first thing your pet does when waking up?  My dog, Stevie, releases a big yawn and then proceeds to lengthen out her legs for a big, arched and elongated stretch.  I’m betting your animal does the exact same thing.  This action, surprisingly, has a name.  It’s called “pandiculation”.

Pandiculation: the involuntary stretching of the soft tissues, which occurs in most animal species and is associated with transitions between cyclic biological behaviors, especially the sleep-wake rhythm.   

The hypothesis is that it prepares the central nervous system for the day ahead, after a long period of rest and recovery.  If animals are doing it, there has to be some value.  In contrast, you may be immediately checking emails or turning on the news when you wake up. I know I’m guilty of this.  I skip this simple little step of pausing, tuning in to my body, and maybe even acknowledging that I should be grateful for the day ahead of me.  

This is the first lesson I’ve learned from Stevie;

I will pause, stretch, and breathe for a moment when I wake up.  

Lesson number two:

On rainy days Stevie will be balled up in a cozy spot, taking a lengthy, quality nap.  She knows the deer, birds, squirrels, and snakes are doing the same thing (her favorite animals to chase).  That’s why she’s conserving her energy for another day.

On sunny days, she runs around like a wind-up toy on steroids, seemingly with endless energy.  She just keeps going and going, like the energizer bunny. These are the days she has rested and prepared for.  

In the same way, tune in to your body.  Maybe your rainy days are the days where you are feeling more sore, are down with a cold, or just a little sad.  Be like Stevie. Snuggle up with a book, watch a movie, take a nap, or journal.  Then, when the sun comes out the next day and you are full of energy, get that workout in, tackle the to-do list, and end the day with some quality time with friends or family.

This is the second lesson I’ve learned from Stevie;

I will listen to my body and live life accordingly. 

Lesson number three:

Why is it that dogs are so filled with love for us?  Everytime I enter the house, Stevie is so filled with excitement that she can’t contain it.  She comes and greets me with a full body wiggle.  Her greeting is the same regardless of my mood or the day I’ve had.  Her greeting is the same regardless of how many extra table scraps I gave her that morning.  She takes whatever love I have for her and returns it back to me exponentially. 

You never know what battles people are facing.  You never know what kind of day your friends and family have had.  Maybe they are a little smug, have love for them anyway.  Maybe they are anxious, have love for them anyway.  Maybe they are having a great day, have love for them anyway.

Have love for your family.

Have love for your friends. 

Oh, and have love for yourself too!

This is the third lesson I’ve learned from Stevie;

Love is unconditional.

I hope the lessons I’ve learned have helped you.  

Now I want you to think about what your pet has taught you.