Each year the Humane Society uses the early days of November to recognize the invaluable work of Animal Shelters and Pet Adoption Centers across the country. Having two rescue pups myself – a Shih Tzu named Toby, and a Terrier mix named Moe – I know firsthand the joy these animals bring to a home.
Such pets are also superb instructors on how to live more fulfilling, satisfying lives. Thus, for this year’s “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week,” I offer the following twelve lessons that Toby and Moe have taught me from our many walks together over the years:
1) Don’t pick a fight with things that are meaner than you are. You can triumph over “bigger” oftentimes, but there is no defense against “meaner.” 2) If you are going to chase after something, makes sure it’s something you want. Likewise, if you are going to chase after something, have a plan in the event that you actually catch it.
3) Inevitably, others will have to clean up after you at some point along the way. Keep your messes to a minimum. 4) It’s natural and proper to pull against the leash. But try to remember the leash has an all-important purpose: To keep you from dangers you could never anticipate or imagine. 5) Stop for water. You are more thirsty than you realize.
6) Stop and smell the roses…the oak trees…the freshly cut grass… the sidewalk cracks… the newly fallen pine cones. You get the idea: Take your time. All of the pressing and urgent demands of the day will be waiting for you, and few of them are actually of great importance. 7) Don’t be so suspicious of others when you meet them. Wagging tails make for new friends, not all the barking and growling.
8) Get started before it gets too hot, and if it’s too cold, wait until the worst of the chill has lifted. Besides, only a masochist tries to find out how much pain he can take; masochists and those who feel they have something to prove. “Provers” tend to turn everything into a contest, and end up stomping the daylights out of what would otherwise be enjoyable.
9) And speaking of “Provers:” Don’t work so hard at marking your personal territory. It was claimed before you arrived, and it will be reclaimed after you leave, piddled on by the next would-be conquistador. None of it belongs to you anyway. 10) Having no particular place to go is not as important as going. Keep moving and the path with show itself to you.
11) If you find yourself far from home, seemingly lost, remember that you are not. Your nose and your heart know the way. Not to mention that someone is likely walking with you who has better direction than you do. And finally, 12) When you get home, eat heartily because you earned it, have a nice cold drink, and be sure to cuddle up with the ones you love.