My husband always wanted a retriever to take duck hunting, so a friend gave us a golden retriever puppy for our wedding. I have a picture in my 1980s wedding dress, holding the puppy as she pees down the front of it. Good thing my dress was an old-fashioned tea-dyed Granny-Gunne-Sax; the pee stain blended right in. We named our puppy Kodi. She lived to be fourteen and now she resides under a towering spruce in our backyard, chasing the great green tennis ball in the sky.

A few years later on a Christmas trip to Wisconsin, we found another golden and named her Molly. Six years later, she had two female puppies that my daughters and I delivered one sunny, spring day. Of course we couldn’t bear to part with them, so each daughter adopted one, naming them Amber and Ginger, same as their color.

Molly passed away from cancer when she turned seventeen. She fought for strength and life, wagging until the minute she died. Molly’s loss was hard. We were grateful we kept her two puppies. Ginger left us in October, an even harder loss. Amber, her litter mate, is now the Last Dog Standing.

Been thinking lately about all I’ve learned from a lifetime of dogs. I’ve read much about dogs and what they teach us, so decided to list my own Top Eleven life lessons I’ve learned from my goldens: amber-ginger

  1. Take time to smell everything. I used to rush my dogs on walks, so I could ‘power walk’ when I couldn’t go to the gym. They stop to sniff no matter what. Now, I stop to sniff with them. I’d forgotten how summer and winter smelled.
  2. Think, feel and play like a puppy. My old dogs played like puppies, wagging their butts in the air, front paws down, as they worry their stuffed penguins. It hurts to stick my butt in the air with my paws down, so instead, I worry my penguin and wag my tail standing up.
  3. Live in the moment and be joyful. We hear this every day. Dogs don’t resolve to do this, they don’t think about it, so I won’t either. I’ll just Nike the crap out of each moment.
  4. Happy dance because you woke up again. AND you get to eat. I’ve learned to be grateful for the little things, waking up each day and being passionate about breakfast like Amber, who spins a bumblebee dance for her breakfast each morning.
  5. Be patient. My goldens wait patiently for snacks when I say ‘sit’ or’ lie down’. Patience is a challenge for me, still working on this one.
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When Amber and Ginger wag their tails and clear the coffee table in a 180-degree radius, they don’t obsess about it. They go about their business. I’m working on this one too. I don’t wag my tail around coffee tables anymore.
  7. Love your humans. When we leave our goldens, they are baleful, with sad eyes and head down between paws. When we return, it’s always like the first time. Unconditional love. This seems an obvious lesson, but we humans forget it with one another.
  8. Don’t hold grudges and growl. And no matter how much you want to, don’t bite those you don’t like. This is hard for me. I’m working on this too.
  9. Pay attention to those you love. We humans aren’t always present to our loved ones, nor do we show enough affection as our dogs do when they lick our hand or cheek. This one is tricky; if I lick my daughter’s cheek, she may advise I get therapy. If I lick my husband’s cheek, we may wind up in the bedroom.
  10. Take naps. Many of us are sleep-deprived. Life is fast, and we cram what we can into it. My goldens have shown me that stopping to rest or nap is healthy. They wake up happy and revitalized. What’s not to like about that?
  1. Never lose hope. Before Amber allows us to pass the pantry, we must pay a puppy-toll: A treat from the doggie treat box. Amber’s job is to lobby for treats, 24/7. She never loses hope of another treat. Never. She’ll take up sentry, when food emerges from closets or the fridge. She “guards” whatever food she knows is on the counter or a table. One night we forgot something in the microwave and found Amber, sleeping at her guard post. She knew that food did not exit the microwave.

I never lose hope for another treat either. Because if I lose hope, what do I have to look forward to?

Thank you, Kodi, Molly, Ginger, and Amber.dogs-and-kayaks

You have shown that dogs are people too.

© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2017, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.                      LIPSLips

Written by Lois Paige Simenson

    1 Comment

  1. Ginny January 4, 2017 at 10:39 pm Reply

    Nice, sweet advice. I like that you relate to your audience by not upping them on all the lessons learned from your dogs. “Still working,” is good. We humans are all “in progress,”

    Good job, Lois.

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