It is so easy for me to forget how to be grateful.
Especially in November, when the long Alaska night fully descends on my home and the biting cold reminds me that I must wear 6 layers of clothes every time I step outside.
But this cold, dark season also presents me with the perfect opportunity to open my eyes and look at the world with thanks in my soul. Or, as I often tell my son; “make sure to go about your day with a grateful heart!”
And, like last year, when my mom died… or this year, when another portion of my family passed much too soon… I sometimes have difficulty finding those things in life that make me thankful. So in those moments, when I can’t see the light for the darkness, I look to my dogs for inspiration.
Yes! I admit it! My *dogs* remind me how to be grateful.
“Well that’s just crazy talk!” You might say.
And okay… sure… none of them have written a self help book. They certainly aren’t part of the empire of inspiration headed up by the one and only Oprah Winfrey. And every single one of them will eat straight out of the trash, if given the chance.
But believe me, this pack that shares my home really does know how to embrace life... and here are 5 ways they remind me to do the same:
1. Every time Kluane wakes up to greet the day.
Klu does nothing in a half hearted fashion. And her morning routine is certainly no exception! Often, before my body is ready to climb out of bed, Kluane pops awake, tuned in to her own internal clock. After her eyes open, her tail is the first part of her body that moves. Wagging with excitement about the possibilities of the day, Klu leaps from my bed, onto the ground. She prances around the bed to my face and uses her nose to gently nudge my face.
I gotta admit, being woken up every morning in this fashion is kind of awesome. And I can’t help but smile when her happy eyes and wagging tail are first to greet me in the morning.
Klu’s tail never stops wagging. She will spin around in circles, leap onto the bed and back off of the bed multiple times before I say; “okay, let’s go eat breakfast.”
Beginning every day with this happy, carefree attitude makes it extremely difficult for Klu to have a bad day.
Kluane is grateful for every single day.
2. Jupiter’s obsessive love of the outdoors.
Have you ever lived with a Catahoula?
If not, let me tell you, Catahoula’s make the most of every single second they spend outside.
This dog breed originates as both a hunter of wild boars in the Bayou… AND… cattle herders in the swampy lands of the deep American South. To this day, Catahoulas still work hard and do the jobs they were bred to do, hundreds of years ago.
Jupiter came to me at 5 weeks old as an orphan puppy. And it became immediately clear that this little ball of black and silver fur was going to need a LOT of outdoor adventure time. 2 ½ years later, Jupe hasn’t proved me wrong!
Rain, snow, wind, extreme heat… none of it matters to Jupiter. She delights in the outdoors.
If it’s super hot out, Jupe simply adjusts her plans and spends her time outdoors in the creeks and rivers that are abundant in Alaska.
What about the wind? No problem! Into the forest we go where Jupe delights in the wind driven waving treetops or the blowing leaves available to chase.
Rain brings puddles where water doesn’t normal reside. And in Jupe’s mind, nothing is better than puddle jumping!
And snow? Well, snow is her most favorite of all… sliding, digging, burying her face, rolling around in the white stuff and soaking up every last inch of the snow covered ground.
Jupiter is grateful for her opportunity to celebrate all of the gifts of nature.
3. The way Pali works through her fears.
Pali is, undeniably, the most cautious of the pack. She’s not shy… she just likes to take her time getting comfortable with new things.
Pali has a process when she enters new spaces. The process is always the same, regardless of location.
First, she sniffs her area. Pali is sure to stand close to me, but she doesn’t lean on me. Standing close to me is her way of staying with what’s she’s familiar, while preparing to move into the unfamiliar.
Next, Pali takes her cautious steps forward. She watches all the activity that goes on around her. But Pali never seems to feel overwhelmed. She just prefers to study the situation before choosing to join in.
Finally, Pali moves away from me and begins her greetings with any other humans or dogs that may be in the new space. And if we’re alone, then Pali is off to sniff and explore the room or the trail or the field. She gains confidence with every step she takes away from my side.
This is the process Pali uses. And you know, Pali trusts her process! She knows that taking these three steps each time she finds herself in an unusual space… works for her. And I love watching Pali work through her process.
Pali is grateful for learning a process to cope with things that might be a little scary or new.
4. All the times Bryce chooses himself over following along with the crowd.
Can I tell you guys a secret?
Bryce’s personality is probably my most favorite out of my whole pack! And to take that a little further… I’d be willing to admit that his personality is my favorite, even when including all the humans I know too!
Life is pretty simple for Bryce. He just does his own thing. Bryce is the Poodle who wakes up on his own timeline. When all my other pooches are awake and ready for the day, Bryce doesn’t care. If he wants to keep sleeping… he is going to dang well keep on sleeping!
Bryce loves going outside to play. But when it comes to chasing a ball, or following the rest of the dogs through the woods… meh. Bryce could take it or leave it.
My white Poodle dude goes about his business, exploring new spaces by himself, chasing the ball or the stick that none of the other dogs seem to care much about. Bryce even sleeps wherever he wants. Sometimes I’ll find him in a hallway. Other times he’s sleeping in front of his private dog space. Note that I just typed; in front and not inside. Because Bryce does his own thing. Sure he has his own private dog space. But just because he’s supposed to use it, certainly doesn’t mean he’s going to use it!
Bryce also really cherishes his alone time. He has no qualms about being the only dog in the room. It’s almost as if Bryce knows he needs some solitude to recharge his batteries. And yeah, I know he’s a dog. But let’s be honest, as dogs go… he is a Poodle. And I sorta feel like Bryce has a bit more self awareness than most.
The B-man marches to the beat of his own drum. And he is perfectly okay with that!
Bryce is grateful for his individuality. And he doesn’t need anyone else to tell him he’s good enough.
5. Wallace’s confidence in every single thing he does.
There is a reason I refer to Wallace as the coolest dog in the world. And that reason is basically because it is totally true!
This boy… I tell you what… nothing phases him. Be it a new dog, a new adventure, a new person… Wallace owns the situation with his own self-assuredness and confidence. I don’t think Wallace has ever met a scary situation. He just knows that everything is going to be okay. Because 99% of the time, it really no big deal!
Wallace takes the love he receives in his world and carries it with him wherever he goes. Wallace sees the forest for the trees… he sees that the world has more goodness and grace than it does hate and anger. And, yes. I know he is a dog, but I can’t help but feel like Wallace chooses to see the good. And that makes life so much more fun for my big guy.
Wallace is grateful the love in his life. It is because of that love, that Wallace can walk through life with so much confidence.
So there you have it. 5 ways my dogs remind me to be grateful. But I gotta say, all 4 of my brilliant Poodles and my 1 amazing Catahoula rescue remind me in countless ways, that life is so much more enjoyable when I step back and look at all the good in life.
I am grateful for all 5 of my dogs. Sharing their world is truly a gift.
Have you learned how to be grateful through your dogs’ examples? Share your stories in the comments. I’d love to hear about your pups!