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Life Lessons from My Fur Buddy

There are so many life lessons available to us that come from our animal companions! This week I had the opportunity to glean a few as a result of Gibson’s intestinal distress (my brother’s dog that I live with). I am glad he shared these lessons and reminders that we can all appreciate!

1. When you have to act quickly, make a decision and simply do the best you can.

Gibson is a very considerate dog. I came upstairs from my room in the morning and he was laying on the big sofa (not his usual spot). I sat down on the floor and asked him how his tummy was feeling (I sensed it hadn’t been feeling all too good). He told me, “It’s not perfect.” I asked and then did a bit of Reiki for him. I got up to go back downstairs and caught sight of a mess on the floor in the kitchen. I immediately turned and let my brother know, who had come out to greet Gibson. I shared with Gibson how pleased I was that he had been so responsible by going in the kitchen where it was easier to clean. What’s even more amazing about that is Gibson NEVER goes into the kitchen! Then I got an inkling to go into the room on the opposite side of the kitchen (with a doorway leading to the kitchen) to look outside. When I turned around I saw another mess in that room. It was Gibson who'd prompted me to go there so we would know there was more. I expressed my empathy about how uncomfortable it must have been for him to be in such a state as to, in an emergency, need to defecate in the house. I know how much he, and other dogs, do not like to make messes like that. I acknowledged his choice that took all of us into consideration. Unfortunately this one was on carpet, but it was strategically placed where we don’t normally walk (and remember he prompted me to go and look in that room so we’d know).

The gift I received from this is that rather than being paralyzed by not knowing what to do (at a time when quick action is needed), it’s important to be present and DO something (in a way that causes the least amount of disruption, if possible)!

2. It’s okay to let others know you’re not well (or something’s off) and ask for help. Others want to help!

Another thing about Gibson is he’s not super vocal. He does bark and howl occasionally, but this is not his modus operandi. My brother talked to Gibson and requested that if he needed help next time to please bark and let him know. He assured him he’d be happy to help.

As I personally reflect on this lesson, I recall just how tough it can be for me to speak up and ask for help. This may be the case for you or others you know too. Underlying this may be not wanting to be a burden for others, feeling shame, not knowing what you need, not knowing how to ask for help or perhaps not realizing just how bad the situation really is (be it denial or some other reason). Whatever it is…remember there are others ready and willing to help!

3. It’s important to make sure communication is understood and received as intended.

As shared above, my brother requested Gibson let him know if he needed help. That night (or rather about 2:45am) I heard Gibson howl and my brother take him outside. What followed was the sound of the steam cleaner running. Gibson had let him know he needed help…but only after the fact! Oops! Perhaps he thought the help he needed was to clean up the mess? Anyway, the good news is that he went in the same spot on the carpet as previously (not wanting to mess somewhere new).

We realized that the communication didn’t completely get through to Gibson. Neither my brother nor myself had stopped to ensure that Gibson fully understood and was clear about when to ask for help. So we communicated again. This time asking him to let us know he needed help ahead of time and giving him mental pictures of him relieving himself outside in the yard. Then I checked for understanding.

It’s so easy to make the assumption that we have clearly communicated and that the other understands what’s been communicated (as intended). After all, we understand what we said…it’s perfectly clear to us! It pays to slow down taking a few extra minutes to ask for feedback about what was communicated to discover misunderstandings and then work through anything needed to provide clarity for all.

And finally…

4. We’re all a work in progress!

What I love most about my experience this week with Gibson’s intestinal distress is it’s a great reminder that we’re ALL a work in progress! Remembering this keeps me empathetic toward myself and others!

You know what else? I’m grateful that even though we may not do things perfectly, we are all here taking action and learning through the process! Thank you for being here and…thank you Gibson for these lessons about life!

What life lessons have your furry loved ones blessed you with this week? I’d love to hear your favorites!


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