New Year’s challenge: Live like a dog

Every year at this time many of us make a long list of resolutions which will help make us better people.

We have heard them all. Lose weight. Take better care of yourself. Make new friends. Finish that remodeling project.

Get more exercise. Eat less chocolate. Smile more. Get to know your neighbors better. Spend less time at work.

Lose the grouchy attitude. Slow down and smell the roses.

And the resolution list could go on and on and on.

In comes the dog. About 10 years ago, I stopped making resolutions mainly because when I made them, I could never follow through with my “unrealistic” expectations.

Instead, I bought my dog, Maggie.

What? How is buying a dog better than making resolutions?

Most people would argue that “a dog is the last thing that I need in my life right now!”

I would disagree. A dog is one of the first things we need. Yes, dogs are a responsibility. Yes, you will have to walk them, but what is wrong with a little more exercise.

Besides, dogs stop and smell life. They give tours of back alleys, streets and woods that we never knew existed. They make you linger. You see things differently with a dog at your side.

You will live longer with a dog. Your house and garage may become a little more unorganized, but your blood pressure will be lower. Dogs rarely talk back; they listen really well; their education costs far less; and they come with their own clothes and shoes.

Rarely do you see a dog turn down food that is served to them.

In short, dogs appreciate everything that you do for them.

Added bonus. As an added bonus, you will laugh more. Both at yourself and at your dog.

One thing that visitors to our family farm can count on is to be greeted enthusiastically by Maggie and her puppy Hallie. Just seeing them wag their tail as they pounce towards you brings a smile to your face.

Wouldn’t it be nice if each of us would operate in a more canine sense?

Wouldn’t our world be a better place if we as “humans” greeted and treated each other with the same love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness that a dog has?

So in the upcoming year, I challenge you to live life like a dog.

Whether you are a dairy farmer, teacher, waitress, bus driver, or student you will feel better for it.

Learn from a dog. I would like to end today’s column with a tidbit of wisdom from the Family Information Network’s Finfacts newsletter, Things You Can Learn From a Dog, that Mary Hostetler from Rock Creek so graciously shared with me a few years ago.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. When it is in your best interest, practice obedience.

Take naps and stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily. Be loyal.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

Delight in the simple joy of taking a walk. On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shade tree.

When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body. No matter how often you are scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout.

Run right back and make friends. Have a good and safe holiday season.

(The author is an extension agent in agriculture and natural resources for the Ohio State University.)

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