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  • Writer's pictureVera Jo Bustos

Life Lessons I've Learned From My Dog

“Are you bringing te-quila to my party?” My 5-year-old niece asked. “You mean Ah-kee-lah?” “Yes, that’s what I said! Te-quila!”

The memory still makes me laugh.

I own a Siberian Husky named Akela. She is stubborn, full of never-ending energy, and tests my patience more than I would like to admit.

I’ve learned so many life-lessons from tequila – I mean Akela – in the last few months.

Mostly, I write these articles for myself. They are what I need to hear, listen to, and live out. They keep me honest to what I teach and what I know I should hold on to. Just like athletes know what they should do for their workouts, we all know what we should do to live our best lives. The problem isn't in the know - it's in the how.

How do I live those things out that I value and hold close to my heart? It starts with quality time. Quality time with myself (I can't pour from an empty glass). Then pouring myself into others. I think about how Akela seeks out quality time with me. When I ignore her because the work I have in front of me is too important at the time, things tend to get out of control until she gets what she wants. Me. It's amazing how ten minutes of quality time soothes her and calms her down for the time being. It makes me wonder how many times I have ignored those who have mattered most to me in the past because of whatever task was in front of me at the moment was deemed more important. The thought makes me cringe. 

These times are new to us all. We are training ourselves to live different than we ever have before. I think back to when I first got Akela as an 8-week old puppy. It took months to house-break her. It took even longer to teach her basic commands. While it wasn't always easy in those moments to have patience, I reminded myself that she was just a puppy. She was still learning and seeing the ways of the world for the first time. The only way she would grow was to have patience with her while she learned these new behaviors. It was easier for me to have patience and understanding for my dog than it is to have patience with myself. I am also in training with a completely new lifestyle. The things I am going through goes against everything I have been accustomed to. Yet, there is no patience for myself. I hold myself to impossible standards. 

In these moments, it is easy for me to get caught up in all the stressors in life. It is hard for me to take my own advice I give to my clients. How can I enjoy myself when this chaos has taken over the world? How can I have fun? It doesn't take long until I turn to Akela who sits and waits for me by the back door with a tennis ball in her mouth. Regardless of what is going on in the world, there should always be time to play and find my joy

Speaking of joy, it seems that most of us have been robbed of it lately. It feels like it is harder and harder to find. What I tend to forget is my joy is a mindset. It's the way I choose to see life. The lens I focus through. While I can't control a lot of things going on at the moment and things seem to be spinning out of control, I can control my mindset. I often talk about finding your "nuggets" or the simple pleasures in life. Mine is my morning coffee while reflecting on the things I am grateful for and the excitement of living another day. This morning, I watched Akela run in circles chasing after her own tail. It's a daily occurrence for her. I assume that's how she finds her joy. I found myself smiling after I connected the dots for myself. How something so simple can bring so much joy.

Simple moments tend to create the most cherished memories. 

When reflecting on memories, I found the times I hold dear have come when I was completely immersed in the moment. Lost in time. Not caring about the past or the future. Maybe living in the moment is the secret to pure joy. That's the only way Akela knows how to live. She doesn't worry about her future. She doesn't fret over her past. She is happy living in the moment. As long as she has her time with the person she loves the most. Me.


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