Note: This is a guest post from my mom Nancy who recently started a breast cancer blog called Nancy’s Point. She also writes about her dogs Elsie and Sophie.
I envy the optimism of my dogs as they greet each new day. I know many would say I imagine it, but it seems to me as if Elsie (golden retriever) and Sophie (English springer) welcome every morning with enthusiasm and expectations for good things.
No matter what, the very first thing they both do upon rising is shake off, as if literally shedding the night’s veil of slumber from their bodies. Next, without fail they slide forward on their front paws and stretch their bodies into the longest, leanest contortions possible. Then the tails begin to wag in happy morning salutations, one long and fluffy with a gentle, majestic wag and the other in nonstop, frantic motions.
After the shaking and stretching, they happily begin to bounce and prance their way to the front door where they know the next step in the routine is to get outside, sniff the fresh morning air for changes of any type and tend to “their business.”
When finished outside, they run with eager anticipation back into the house and head straight to the kitchen where they both patiently sit and wait for breakfast. They know it will be momentarily served up. They know it will always be there. They know I will always provide for them. They are truly creatures of habit with fine-tuned routines.
Elsie and Sophie approach every new day as just that, a fresh start. It doesn’t matter if we stayed up too late. I might rise tired and cranky from not enough sleep, but not Elsie and Sophie. Regardless of what time we went to bed or what time the house begins to stir in the morning, they are ready. They are eager. They seem delighted just to see me and have a new day to begin. They have few expectations, few demands and therefore few disappointments.
They don’t need the day planned with various activities, events or tasks to be completed. If we have travel plans or only a daily walk scheduled, they are more than eager participants. But they are also equally content to linger or lounge around letting the day quietly unfold with all its certainties and surprises. They are ready for either one.
Likewise, at the end of the day, they never lament the things they failed to accomplish as I sometimes do. Instead, as dusk surrounds us all once again, they happily plop down on their dog beds and simply go to sleep, never worried about what tomorrow may or may not bring. They instinctively just know how to begin and end each day.
Yes, dogs can teach us much about the value of living each day or even each moment. They don’t worry about yesterday or dream of tomorrow. They simply are ready to grasp and enjoy the present. They don’t hold grudges or act disappointed in us when we fail at something or raise our voices at them. No, they immediately forgive or just move on. Some would say they are just not capable of deeper thoughts or worries, they’re just being dogs. But I don’t think that even matters. They still do what they do and observing them “do what dogs do” just makes me feel better.
I love how just seeing Elsie’s and Sophie’s “smiling” faces, thumping tails, wiggling bodies, eagerness to begin the day and boundless fresh energy make me stop and marvel, if only for a moment. After my recent breast cancer diagnosis, I truly appreciate their remarkable ability to live for the moment. I intend to try to learn how to do the same.
Thanks, girls, for your optimism, whether I am imagining it or not.
What simple life lessons has your dog taught you?