Love Life Like A Dog

This is Monty.

Monty is a dog. (No kidding)

Monty has taught me a lot about how to live life joyfully, lovingly and enthusiastically.

But before I tell you more about loving life like a dog, I want to share a story about Monty.

Monty was my partner Ian’s dog. He came into Ian’s life as an eight week old puppy, and they became inseparable. Where Ian went, Monty went. He was a “tradies” dog. His favourite place was on the back of the ute. It had to be on the drivers side, head out in the wind, jowls flapping, eyes squinting, glorying in the plethora of smells wafting in the wind.

He loved the building sites too. Monty believed that everyone loved him – because he loved everyone, and on the sites there were other people to pat and praise him and feed him a tasty morsel.

Monty was devoted to Ian. He loved other people and would go with anyone happily, but he really loved Ian.

As Ian got sicker, and wasn’t able to work as much, Monty was by his side. He even stayed in Ian’s room in palliative care (and scared the life out of a night nurse who hadn’t been forewarned that he was there).

If Ian was in hospital, and I went to visit him without Monty, when I got home, he would run past me to the car, and search to see if Ian was there. So I used to worry sometimes how Monty would be when Ian died, and if I would be able to cope with his grief as well as my own.

Ian died.

I was with him at the hospital when he died. My sons who were in their late teens had decided to go home to the farm, and they were there with Monty.

Ian died at 7.40pm and I arrived home at 10pm after washing his body to tell the boys their stepfather had died. They were very upset naturally, then my oldest son suddenly said to me “mum, what time did Ian die?”. When I told him it was about 7.40pm he looked at me and said “We were sitting in the lounge and around that time, Monty suddenly got up off his bed and stood wagging his tail and licking the air and staring at the wall. It was as though he could see something that we couldn’t, and I said to him Monty, has he (Ian) gone, and he was totally oblivious to me. After a minute he turned around, went back and laid down on his bed”.

From that moment on, Monty never looked for Ian. Didn’t mourn Ian. I believe he knew that Ian had died because Ian came and saw him to tell him.

We had a celebration of Ian’s life a week later at his favourite beach where he and Monty loved to go, and Monty came. During the celebration, he ran, and barked and played, joyfully living life even though the human that he had loved the most had just died. He was an inspiration to me and others there. He showed us that when we surrender to life and accept what IS, with no thought of “why did this happen to me?”, “it shouldn’t be this way”, then we can continue to live joyfully even in the face of great loss.

Always, always it is our mind that causes our suffering.

Next month it is five years since Ian died, Monty is now almost 13 years old and still full of life and love and happiness.

There are other things that my dogs have taught me:

Enjoy the simple pleasures in life – the soft bed, the warm sun, freedom to run, the wonderful scents in the air, a loving touch, a back scratch, meeting new people, the beach, the bush, rolling on soft grass, a walk, food, attention, snuggles, the delight of a loved one returning home….

There is one more lesson I want to share… have you noticed how your dog greets you with joyful affection and excitement every time they see you again after an absence (it may only have been an hour)? Dogs have the capacity to meet you anew in every moment. As humans, we can’t seem to do that. Each time we meet our partner, children, friends, we don’t meet them as the person they are in that moment. We bring into that meeting all the accumulated past experiences with that person, good and bad and our preconceived idea of who they are and this affects our interaction. Sometimes badly.

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. The person you married 15 years ago is not the same person walking beside you today. They have changed, you have changed, the world has changed, and yet so often we don’t notice because we have locked into our mind a belief about who and what they are.

The past is gone.

It is now only a memory.

A thought.

Let it go.

There is only Now. … each moment is new and filled with potential. Greet it joyfully.

You are alive.

Love life like a dog, Joyfully, passionately, lovingly. (And life will love you, joyfully, passionately, lovingly).

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