By Dobie Houson
Like people, dogs are complex, sentient creatures. They feel love and joy, sorrow and pain. They have thoughts and emotions, and hopes and dreams. And they care as deeply about their needs and desires as we, as human beings, care about ours.
As an animal communicator, I work telepathically with dogs, often to help humans, whether at shelters or in forever homes, to better understand and support them. So I also know this about dogs: they are more than “man’s best friend”—they are wise and wonderful teachers. By their very nature, they are remarkable role models for mankind.
But to benefit from your dog’s wisdom, you must open your heart and mind. And you must be willing to be his student.
For starters, consider seven virtuous behaviors you can learn from—and for—your four-legged companion:
1. Be loyal. Trust is essential to any whole, loving relationship. Be a faithful companion to your dog, and devotedly meet his needs and desires—physical, mental, emotional and, if possible, spiritual.
2. Be loving. Make an effort to deserve your dog’s unwavering, unconditional love. Every day seek ways to express the love and respect you have for him.
3. Be attentive. Watch over your dog’s health and well-being. Educate yourself on his changing needs in each life stage, and consider holistic approaches to nutrition and veterinary care.
4. Be compassionate. Always be kind and gentle with your dog. No excuses. No exceptions. Period.
5. Be forgiving. Know how to forgive—and forget. And remember there are no bad dogs. Even bad behavior is often a cry for help, to express angst, boredom, or physical pain.
6. Be dependable. Embrace routine. Be consistent with your dog in all areas—with feeding, training, walking, playing, and beyond.
7. Be present. Don’t hold on to the past or fret about the future. Be in the present moment with your dog.
Finally, accept that being human doesn’t make you smarter, let alone superior. Be the teacher—and the student. Together, you and your dog can learn a lot.
Dobie Houson is an animal communicator and author of Four-Legged Wisdom: Sacred Stories from an Animal Communicator (2014) and Finding Forever: The Dogs of Coastal German Shepherd Rescue (2011). She is founder and executive director of Finding Forever, a foundation dedicated to raising money and awareness for animal rescue efforts. For more information, visit findingforever.org.