Willow was adopted into our family about six weeks ago. Getting used to a new family member is challenging, but in just over a month she has taught us a great deal:
- There’s always an opportunity to make new friends. At the first meeting, Willow sniffs strangers to see what they are about. After a few investigative moments, she gladly takes to her new friend, whether dog or human.
- Greet everyone with a wag or hearty hello (or smile). Willow greets everyone with complete joy. Every. Single. Time. Your smile may be the only one someone sees all day. Offer it enthusiastically and genuinely.
- If you don’t exercise, you WILL become destructive. If our walk is delayed for any reason – getting the kids ready for school or checking my email – it is an absolute truth that Willow will get into something she isn’t supposed to. Dance while vacuuming. Do pushups on the counter while waiting for water to boil. Take a gratitude walk on your lunch break. If you don’t get your body moving, you will inevitably contribute to the destruction of you – physically, mentally and emotionally.
- A lot of toys do not bring happiness. We have purchased eight toys for Willow’s chewing pleasure. Four of them rest in pieces somewhere in Garbageville. Three of them that remain, she chooses to play with periodically. Her favorite, the stuffed turtle that we bought her the day of her adoption, lacks the damage you’d expect from a Husky Shepherd and sleeps with her often. However, her favorite “toy” is our time. The time that makes her most visibly content is when we pet her. For hours.
- Give a pat on the back, hugs, or affection to those who matter most every day. Petting Willow lets her know how happy we are to have her in our world. Let your favorites know how much they mean to you – not only in the way that you are comfortable in sharing your affection but in a way that you know they will best receive it. If I love receiving little notes of appreciation, but you are a pat-on-the-back kind of person – meet somewhere in the middle. While patting my back, make sure you smack a scribbled on post-it note there (not a “Kick Me” sign, thank you very much).
- Every moment is another chance to chase the squirrel. Willow forgets that she is attached to the leash when she darts for that fluffy tail. She wasn’t able to chase the squirrel yesterday during our walk, but today is a new day. Keep chasing your squirrel, no matter what occurred days before.
- Respect the boundaries of your leash, your “here and now.” Today Willow cannot get the squirrel. She’s still happy to be on a walk, happy to be out of the shelter, happy to be part of my family. Willow delights in investigating who has been out already, sniffing out sticks and rubbing her forehead on the grass (or burrowing in the snow). There are lots of things in the world you don’t have, but you don’t know what you are missing if you have never had them. Focusing on what you already have leaves you with nothing but contentment.