Sunday, April 29, 2012

Top 10 Lessons My Dogs Taught Me

Many articles have been written on this topic, but I am going to write from a slightly different perspective. Perspective of someone, who lives over twenty years with siberian huskies.

Some people (and believe me, those are the ones, who either never shared a daily life with a siberian, or who just never took the journey into this unique dog´s soul) say siberians are stubborn, stupid, wild, aggressive, not to be trusted and otherwise uneasy to train.

While the first and last may be true, I would use a better way to describe them - they are natural, highly intelligent and thus challenging.

But today I am not writing about the character of this breed, but about what valuable life lessons these dogs gave and keep giving me on literally daily basis.

I am sure that I could come up with a zillion more lessons my dogs give me every single day, of course, but let´s just break it down to the top 10 today:

1. To read one´s body language (be it a dog, another animal or person)
Living and interfering with the dogs every day, and watching how they communicate within the pack, with us humans, how they react to different weather, wildlife, how they solve situations on the trail, how they rest, eat, recover, play - all that and much more taught me to get to know them and understand them better, and to learn how to communicate without words, if one only opens their eyes, ears and heart.

2. A strong sense of empathy
(ok, I´ve always been an emphatic person, but I mastered it)

3. To be creative and inventive (read: not to be boring, employ my mind to come up with ways to break or spice up a boring routine) 
Because if I wouldn't open my mind and become creative and inventive, I would have no success with teaching, training, communicating and cooperating with these smart animals. No way! Thinking out of the box is one of the keys to getting their interest and engaging them into a successful and healthy relationship.

4.To be patient
And to learn to take things more easy, to understand that a great result depends on a great amount of hard work and that adding bit of sense of humor is a necessity. Working and communicating with live creatures requires patience and understanding that not everything will always work out as planned, that many situations and obstacles pop up to be solved and overcome first.

5. To think one step ahead
Through their intelligence, they definitely constantly challenge me to be smarter, to always be one step ahead if I want to achieve something. Which leads, hand in hand to the next point.

6. To be smarter 
They actually taught me how to engage my brain in finding fun and motivating ways for them to enjoy and want to do what I want them to do. To finding solutions, rather than breaking down and giving up. 

7. To learn to listen 
To what they have to say, what is it that they want, what makes them tick - believe me, this is a key to A) understanding better your dogs and B) to creating a better, stronger relationship, based on healthy mutual respect and harmony.

8. To be more responsible and cautious

9. To be (mentally and physically) tougher 
To work with huskies and their natural, smart character requires one to be mentally tough. You have to know what you want from your dogs, what your goal is (be it teaching them a few tricks, potty training, obedience competitions, loose running, sprint racing, agility competing, long distance racing - you name it). That´s when many of the points above come in handy. And they all together made me become mentally tougher too. Naturally, in my case, working with a large group of dogs and training and racing sled dog teams makes one physically tougher as well. And when I see my weaknesses, I long for improvements within myself and thus constantly work on becoming tougher, both physically and mentally. This sport and lifestyle and  sharing life with a pack of huskies is a great opportunity for such growth. 

10. To be less selfish
I believe that anyone who TRULY loves their canine companions and learns about empathy, also learns to be less selfish. If you understand your dogs and their nature, you  have good chances of becoming less selfish in many ways. You learn to want what´s best for them, although it sometimes means it´s not necessarily the best for you. Be it in terms of reflecting on your ambitions versus their health and capabilities, or your need to keep them by your side, although they would be happier living a different life (perhaps with someone else), or the difficult learning that it´s time to give them peace and let them go when their suffering of long illness or pain associated with old age arrive, although you don´t want to part.

And of course, at the end and beginning of it all, they taught me About Unconditional Love.

There are many angles, which my dogs taught me to look from, reflect on and use to look inside myself.

The fascinating thing about it all is, that this is actually an ongoing, never ending learning curve and an incredible journey.

I can truly and honestly from the bottom of my heart say that I am a person who could not live without my dogs, and that I am a better person because of them.

What fascinates me is that all the lessons my dogs taught me are beneficial in many different perspectives. 

My relationship and bond with them is constantly growing. We have a mutual language that we understand. Not only the human or dog language, but something of our own that we have developed together as a communication tool.

Those top 10 lessons are valuable in my daily life in general. In communication and cooperation with other people, giving me different perspective and again, powerful and natural tools for reaching out and saying, meaning, asking for and getting what I want. 

In general, it makes me think out of the box about difficult decisions, life situations or various solutions.

Yes, my dogs are my non-judgmental mentors, my motivation and inspiration, my cheerleaders, my passion and truly my best friends.

I deeply admire, respect and love them.


AR Travis said...

As a long time owned by siberians person, I agree 100% with everything you have mentioned. This breed above all others will teach you more about yourself and the world around you. It is one reason why I would never be parted with them.

Karen J Williams said...

I am deeply touched with this sharing. I am so glad you wrote it out. I love my sibes but it is only me. The rest of my sibilings and extended family don't quite understand why I am making decisions based on and around them. "They are just dogs"!!! is mostly the annoyed answers I get and I have to say my life is blessed because I have beautiful sibes in it.
Thank you God for the Sibes! They are indeed unique and definetly not for all.

Anonymous said...

I am owned by a set of blue eyes, white/silver hair, a tail curled over and to the right and my favorite quote is "rooo rooooo."