Life Lessons From a Dog

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
-John Lennon

“Are you sure it’s a dog? It looks like a giant rat.”

At the age of 37, the breeder handed me my very first dog. All 1.5 pounds of him.

We named him Bandit because he kept stealing and hiding things – mostly slippers. A Yorkipoo, he looked like a Yorkshire Terrier but with curly, soft, brownish-grey Poodle hair.

Completely Clueless

To say Bandit rocked my world is an understatement. Having never owned a dog before, I was completely clueless. Poor Bandit was my first test subject, and I made so many mistakes.

“Socialization,” I kept reading, was necessary for puppies, to expose them to the larger world. So I set out to expose Bandit to as much life and variety as I could.

We took him on trips, got him out and about as much as possible. I even took him through a car wash, which I think traumatized him for life.

However, in my quest to socialize him, I overlooked a few things. Most importantly, the fact that he got carsick – every single car trip was a disaster. Plus, he was a very anxious dog, and craved routine and familiarity – not adventure and long car trips.

Big Changes

Funny thing about dogs though – in my many hair-brained attempts to expose him to life and all its complexities, he was actually changing me more than I was changing him.

The changes were slow and subtle. I knew something was up when out for a morning run, I thought “I really should be cutting my runs down so I can spend more time with Bandit before work.”  Then I started worrying that I wasn’t bonding enough with him. Before I knew it, I was head over heels, crazy in love with my new pint-sized fur baby.

Then came the real shocker – my fur baby got me thinking about having a real baby. Not that I didn’t want children necessarily – I had just never been in a hurry, had always taken a wait-and-see approach. I was hardly the maternal type – or so I thought. I craved independence, freedom, my own space. Or did I?

Apparently not, because two years later, I had not one, but three babies – two fur, one real.

Animal Love

I am not sure what would have happened if Bandit hadn’t come into my life. He seemed to take everything I thought I understood about myself and flip it completely upside down and inside out. I was never a huge fan of animals until he came along, but he showed me the amazing bond that can happen between humans and animals, and the depth of my ability to love and care for others.

All these big lessons from such a tiny little dog. But as the saying goes, “good things come in small packages.” Or in my case, with small fur babies.