Lessons I’ve learned from my pups


Gracie and Oliver

Gracie and Oliver

In honor of National Dog Day today, I wanted to post a little tribute to my furry little babes, Oliver and Gracie.

It probably sounds silly, but they’ve taught me so much over the years and I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned from them.  Here are the 10 main points 🙂

1. Greet others with excitement.

In our house, that can mean a plethora of things, whether it be barking, jumping up, tail wagging, chasing… but when I walk through that door, I know that I’m going to find two little animals that are happy to see me, no matter what.  It doesn’t matter what my day has been like or if I’m in a bad mood and non-receptive to them, they are still always excited to see me and make sure that I know it.  How nice would it be to walk into a room and have every human be that way to you?

2. Continue to be playful, even as you age.

If the ole adage is accurate, my dog Oliver is in his mid 70’s, and you better believe he still brings toys to me every single day.  He may sleep more than he used to, but he hasn’t lost his playful spirit.  And when I play back, he gets as excited as when he was a puppy.  We can take a lot from remembering that we are young at heart, no matter how old we get.  Take the time to play, even if it wears you out.

3. Be on guard, but be able to trust.

When someone new comes to our house, it’s always a big hoorah.  And these dogs can drive me NUTS!  They’re always barking and making a scene (I never said they were perfect 😉 .)  And really, that’s what they’re trained to do, to protect us (or try the best they can in their 10 and 17 pounds of strength).  But they always manage to calm down, and usually end up making new friends, even if they were skeptical at first.

We didn’t get our second dog, Gracie, until Oliver was 4.  He has a lot of anxiety and at that time was becoming very antisocial around other dogs.  We didn’t quite know how he’d handle another dog.  He was pretty unsure of her at first, as she was quite the over-eager puppy.  But he quickly took to her and now, I truly can’t imagine one without the other.  He’s even such a gentleman (cough cough, co-dependent) that he always waits for her before he eats his food.  He loves her like she was always a part of our family, even if he wasn’t quite sure about her at first.

Their instinct is to be on guard, but they learn to trust…and even deeper than that, they learn to love.

4. You don’t have to wash your hair every day to have a good hair day. 😉

5. Be patient with children (or just people in general).

Gracie can be a bit overbearing with excitement at times… she can paw at people or growl (it’s really not in a mean way, I promise) and she is not a delicate creature.  But whenever a baby or a child comes around, she lowers herself down (so she’s completely on their level) and tries to maintain herself.  They can pull her tail, scratch her too hard, run into her with a toy, sit in her dog bed, taunt her with food that she’ll never get, and she will still remain patient and kind to them.

6. Be willing to learn/try something different.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I can assure you that’s inaccurate.  Our dogs pick up both good and bad habits all the time 😉  The edger for the grass goes on, and Gracie has learned that she does not like the sound of it and will, in fact, go into hysterics.  Or if it’s massively thundering, she runs around chasing the sound, barking, because she is going to show that thunderstorm who’s boss. This is a new development.  (She has also learned that both behaviors do render a time-out in the bathroom).  They’ve also learned that “night night treat” (dentastick) means that if they go potty before bed and come right in, they get rewarded.  Dogs are perceptive and learn all the time.  They may be unsure at first, but they go at life with tenacity and vigor and want to be led and taught.

7.  Learn from criticism and move on.

My dogs clearly aren’t perfect, but if I correct them or scold them for doing something bad, they don’t dwell on it.  They don’t sit around thinking about it all day (or at least they don’t show it).  They accept it and move on.  HOPEFULLY they take it in and learn from it, but I can assure you that they don’t let it eat them up.  Sometimes as humans, we only take out the bad and can never focus on the good.  These dogs show me time and again that there is SO much more good to focus on and to not let the bad get you down.

8.  Too much cheese CAN be a bad thing.  (This applies to most things in excess 😉 )

9.  Go after what you want.

This sounds so simple, but sometimes we believe we shouldn’t go after what we want in life.  We may have been shot down, think we don’t deserve it, or just don’t believe we can get it… but that’s not the way that dogs live.  Ollie and Gracie know they don’t get tacos, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to get them every time I make them.  They know if they push a toy towards me for long enough, I’ll play with them, no matter how tired or preoccupied I may be.  Oliver is having a harder time jumping on the bed these days, but he will now just jump as many times as it takes to get up there.  They are unrelenting in going after what they want.


This should probably be number 1, because it’s the most important thing I’ve learned from my dogs.  They love me with all of their heart, all of the time.  They don’t care what good OR what wrong I’ve done.  They stick by my side, no matter what.  They are fiercely loyal and devoted.  They run next to me when I’m happy, they lie as close as they can to me as I sleep, they comfort me when I’m sad, and they never expect anything in return.  They are just grateful to have me, as much as they can.  And THAT, my friends, is such a beautiful thing.


So if you have a dog, remember how good they are to you today and cuddle them a little tighter 🙂  And if you don’t, you should probably go out and get one immediately following reading this post. 😉

Photo Montage Below :

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xo, tess


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