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What our pets teach us during crises

I’ve got a rescue pup.

Her name is Rumi – we call her Roo.

When we first picked her up from Muddy Paws Rescue, she was a petrified little creature. Any fast movement or loud noise and she would practically jump out of her fur!

With a lot of love, patience, and a lot more love, she calmed down and relaxed.

She still has some issues (weary of strangers), just like we humans have after a trauma, but overall, she’s become a very happy dog.

Over the past year, while many humans were (and continue) running around like chickens without heads about the coronavirus, the vaccine, the US election, and everything else that’s gone on in the world, Roo lived her life, as most dogs do… in the moment.

She seems content enjoying her existence on planet earth.

Here are 5 things our pets teach us.

Wake Up and Stretch

Every morning Roo wakes up, crawls out of her doggie bed, and stretches.

Not just a simple little stretch. She literally does a long, slow, down-dog and then an up-dog: two famous yoga poses.

After that, she slowly walks over to our bed to say good morning to us, and yes… she stretches again! A full second round of down-dog and up-dog.

She then shakes her whole body from head to tail. A vigorous ears-flapping-against-the-side-of-her-head shake.

I do this every morning, too. Not the ear-flapping, but the stretching.

I have found that stretching is imperative to get my day started in a healthy way. Some days, I’ll do a 20-minute yoga routine, complete with down-dog and up-dog.

On other days, I’ll do series of simple Meridian Stretches for about 5-7 minutes.

Morning Walk

If I take too long getting ready to take her out for her morning walk, she will sit by the front door and wait. She knows her morning walk is essential.

We take a 4-mile walk around the paths in Central Park almost every day.

During our walk:

  • She meets and greets other dogs.
  • She runs around chasing squirrels.
  • She plays fetch with me and with anyone that is willing to play with her.
  • She competes with other dogs to see who can get the ball first.
  • She jumps over high fences… just because she can.

It’s a good walk with a lot of fun activities.

Before I had a dog, I used to take a daily walk by myself or with my husband for exercise, but Roo has taught me that it’s so much better to walk and play – it’s way more engaging.

Stay Present

As we walk around the neighborhood or in the park, it’s very clear that Roo is present. She is aware of the sights, sounds, people, other dogs, and poop.

For example, she’ll pass another dog’s poop and will stop to take a sniff.

I’m pretty sure that a dog sniffing another dog’s urine or poop is their own version of social media (aka Facebook/Instagram).

She’s sniffing around to see who is in town and what they have been up to.

She takes a couple of sniffs and then keeps moving to the next pile.

She doesn’t get stuck in it wondering if this particular poop is the right poop, or the left poop, or the wrong poop, or anything other than just a poop. She simply sniffs it out and then moves on.

It’s a good lesson for us humans to remember… don’t get stuck in the social poop that’s out there. Cuz there’s a lot of it.

Sense of Purpose

After our morning walk, we head back to the apartment and get to work.

Roo lays on the couch and chills out.

BUT, she is NOT doing nothing while she’s lying there.

If there is noise out in the hallway, or in the courtyard, or on the roof, she jumps up at the opportunity to warn us that someone is in the vicinity and we need to pay attention ASAP.

As a native New Yorker, I’ve heard my fair share of stories about apartments getting robbed. I appreciate this sense of purpose in my dog.

She’s a protector, and she is active and engaged in her work.

She knows this is her home and her job is to protect it and to protect us.

I know many folks over the past year have lost their job and along with it their sense of purpose.

If you have found yourself lying around on the couch feeling lost and depressed, start looking for a new sense of purpose.

It’ll help to keep you active, engaged, and feeling purposeful in life.

Unconditional Love

Yep, you knew that one was coming!

This is probably the GREATEST of all the lessons that we can learn from our pets.

For example, if I leave the apartment to go to the store and return home one or two hours later, Roo greets me at the door and is so happy to see me.

She doesn’t complain:

  • “Where the heck have you been for the past hour?”
  • “I’ve been guarding this darn house all day long and I’m exhausted!”
  • “Why did you abandon me?”

She is just excited to see me without any conditions attached.

Sure… I feed her. I walk her. I clean up her poop. I scratch her back.

But, that’s what we all do, for each other, right? Scratch each other’s back when we need it the most.

We could learn a lot from our pets.

Do you have a pet? If not, go rescue one. I’m sure they’ll rescue you right back.

Muddy paws rescue, Andrea Beaman, Pablo Garcia, Rumi, Roo

 

Photo credits: Pablo A Garcia. Ten Life Media

Pink collar: Max and Neo

Rescue Pups: Muddy Paws Rescue