11 Life Lessons Dogs Teach Us About What Matters The Most

11 Life Lessons Dogs Teach Us About What Matters The Most

Important woofs of wisdom to learn from your furry friend.
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A little over a year ago, my puppy walked into my life and changed everything. I had always wanted a dog--I begged and pleaded for years for a puppy of my own, and my wishes were finally granted. I knew that I would love my puppy with all my heart. I knew that he would become my best friend. I knew he would be faithful and love me unconditionally. I knew this, because I thought I knew all about dogs. However, I never realized how much I would learn from my little 15 pound puppy.

There are so many lessons we can learn from our dogs. The best lessons in life truly can come from the most unexpected places. Here are 11 life lessons brought to you from my dog:

1. Be Loyal

For someone who deals with commitment issues, seeing my dog's fierce loyalty to my family and I has been inexplicably valuable. He does not stray from our sides until he is sure we are safe, and still refuses to let us out of his sight. Dogs are pack animals, and their owners are their pack. My dog's unwavering loyalty has taught me to remain constant and dependable to my human pack.

2. Protect The Ones You Love

Dogs will always stand up for the ones they love, even if the situations are frightening for them. My little 15 pound puppy will stand up to anything that he deems a threat--even if it's a dog 5 times his size, or a menacing human. To him, nothing is more important than keeping me safe. Essentially, dogs teach us to remain courageous and strong in the face of threats to our loved ones. We need to always stand up for those we love.

3. There's Always Time To Play

No matter how tired he is, how long of a day he's had, or what he's doing in that moment, my dog will always come over to play with me when I get home. Dogs are such happy creatures--always jumping, running, and chasing. No matter how old they get, they'll always come over to play a game of fetch. They're good reminders to find the happy moments in life, and to rekindle those moments of joy we discovered in playtime as younger children. You never get too old to play, and your dog gives you an excuse to bring out the little kid that's still inside of you.

4. Live In The Moment, Enjoy The Little Things

It's so easy to make my puppy happy. A new toy doesn't need to be a $20 bone from the store--an old washcloth makes him just as happy to play tug of war with. Car rides may as well be a vacation in paradise. They'll stick their heads out the window, tongue hanging out and tails wagging, not caring about the destination. They live for the journey. Similarly, we need to recognize that while the goal is important, it's often the journey that means the most. Life is meant to be lived in the moment, yet this is one of the most overlooked lessons in our society.

5. FORGIVE others

We don't deserve dogs. Even after leaving them alone all day because we had to stay a few extra hours at work, or waking them up after coming home late after a night out, they forgive us. Instantly. Seeing our faces seems to erase any sort of qualms they may have had with our actions. Dogs never hold grudges, nor do they seek revenge. They are such pure, sweet creatures that forgive anything and everything as long as it is replaced with love. This may be one of the most important lessons I have learned from my puppy. Holding grudges is unhealthy for my body, and anger is bad for my soul. We must forgive others to achieve peace and happiness in our own lives.

6. Accept Yourself, Love Who You Are

I'm going to make an assumption here, since I can't read my dog's mind, but I'm pretty sure Rafiki isn't walking around wishing he was a Havanese instead of a Maltese or wishing his fur was jet black instead of snow white. Rather than becoming envious around other dogs, he simply wishes to play with them and make new friends. Humans, on the other hand, constantly seek to achieve an idealistic level of perfection that is just as unattainable as it is unreasonable. Instead, we need to accept who we are and love the individuals we are as God made us.

7. Never Be Afraid To Express Yourself

Humans often walk on eggshells when it comes to expressing our emotions in front of others. Dogs are simple. They love you? They'll give you kisses all over, whether in public or at home. If they're scared, they cry. Mad? They'll bark at you. Dogs are expressive with their emotions, rather than living in the fear of what others will think.

8. Be Understanding And Listen

Even though he probably doesn't understand what I say 80% of the time, my dog patiently sits and listens to me when I'm talking, venting or crying. His patience calms me down and makes me feel as though I'm not alone, that someone understands what I'm going through, and that someone cares. We need to make sure to do the same for those in our lives. Anyone can be a friend through the good, but very few people can stick around through the bad and ugly. By channeling a similar level of patience, compassion, and understanding as that exhibited by dogs, we can be better friends to those in our lives, and better humans in our world.

9. Accept Compliments

Many cultures call for turning down compliments or acting shy when praised by others. Dogs simply smile and soak up the constant praise they receive. They live for the love, praise and recognition, and allow it to positively influence their self worth. It's important to remain humble in the face of compliments and praise, but it's ok to accept it and be gracious. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves.

10. Stop And Smell The Roses

My dog stops to sniff almost every flower when we go on walks. It gets slightly annoying at times because it interrupts the walk, but I can never stay mad when I see how enthusiastically he seeks to explore all the beauty in life. Put away the technology once in a while and just explore everything around you. Be curious about the world you live in. Smell the roses.

11. Love Unconditionally

I don't think I will ever find someone who loves me the way my dog does. No matter what I do, he's there to greet me with a smile and countless kisses. He doesn't care if I'm dressed up or down, whether or not I have a ton of money, or if I passed or failed my exam. Loving unconditionally is one of the most difficult tasks in the world, but also the most rewarding. It's an act that is difficult, but one that would change the world if only we each tried a little bit harder to make it our reality.


There is so much that we have to learn from our dogs. They appreciate us, motivate us, inspire us and love us. In fact, your dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than themselves. And with that, the most important thing you can do is try to be that amazing person your dog thinks you are.

Cover Image Credit: petsworld.in

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

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The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

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The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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To The First School Pony I Ever Rode, And Still Love

Although its been around 9 years since I've ridden Change, I still remember all he taught me.

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Here's some background. It was my 4th birthday that started my love for horses. My parents and I lived in this house that had an acre plot of land, perfect for the best birthday parties. This birthday party, in particular, consisted of ponies.

My father rented one of those party organizations to bring a few ponies for my friends and me to ride, and that very day I said to my father, "I want to ride horses!" And the rest was history.

I started and still to this day ride at Level Green Riding School, a barn that became a second home to me at a young age. My first lesson, at the age of 6, was on this magical little pony, who now barely reaches my hips, Change. He was this fiery little pony who had some attitude but was incredibly patient with the young students.

I took my first few weeks of lessons on him and continued to on and off ride him for about two years after. Although we did little real work other than walk, trot, canter, then finally 18-inch jumping, I learned a lot from him.

So to my buddy Change,

Selena Spezio, 2009

Thank you for helping me grow my love for riding. Because of you, I have continued to pursue my passion for the sport. I have kept with it, even when I felt like a failure. There would be times when I felt horrible about a lesson, but because of you I keep with it and understand that there is always room for improvement.

Thanks to you, I understand that the horse is never to blame, but that I should reevaluate my position, attitude or technique to better my relationship with the horse I am on. The love I have for these animals stems from the small connection my young kind had with you.

I learned how to be humble. The little things we accomplished together, like my first time ever posting, where I looked like I was attached to a pole just standing up and sitting down, was a big moment, but I know it only happened because you helped me out. Image if I was on a wild pony who had an attitude and was out of control, those big moments would have come a lot harder.

The first time we jumped, oh what a joy. Although it was a small pile of poles at first, I felt free. I really saw what it was like to have a simple connection with a being.

Change, you taught me control, composure, and to have a great attitude no matter what. Those times when you were having a bad day and the first time you tried to buck me off, instead of being in fear, I just laughed and kicked you along.

You taught me the fun of this sport, and for that, I thank you with all my heart.

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