My dog, Gus, is more popular than I have ever been. A friend of mine asked me to write all of my columns about Gus…but that is too much even for me.
But there are many lessons to be learned from our animals. Here are some that I have learned from Gus.
- Greet everyone as if they want to pet you. Okay, we can change the terminology here to make it more human-oriented; but Gus believes that everyone needs to give love and receive it. For humans, a simple smile is often enough.
- Give everyone a chance to love you. Gus believes that everyone, even the scariest people will melt when he opens himself up to them.
- Make it your goal to make someone’s day a little brighter. Gus will break the leash to go into an open door; searching for someone to pet him. The nature trail is adjacent to a stable and we often see Brad, an animal lover who takes care of the horses. When Gus sees Brad, he runs as fast as he can to snuggle at his feet. Annie follows and every time he thanks them for making his day.
- Teach others the value of love. Gus taught my psychologically damaged dog, Annie, how fun it is to be petted by strangers. She now realizes that people aren’t so scary after all, and lets them pet her.
- It is never too late to change. The Gus that I adopted at 9 and the Gus that I have now are too different dogs. The first one was fearful, angry, and distrustful. Gus is just the opposite now.
- Bad circumstances lead to bad behavior, the sooner that you get out of them, the better your life will be. Gus was misunderstood and he responded with fear. But in a loving, understanding, environment he is thriving.
- Don’t dwell in the past. Live in the moment and enjoy every moment you are given.
- Each day is going to be awesome. Both Gus and Annie hover over me in the early morning (starting at 5 a.m.), waiting for me to make the slightest movement, then it is “game on.” They jump on me, snuggle, and yip…they can’t wait to start this awesome day.
- Naps are awesome. Take a nap anytime; and if possible, take it on a lap or snuggling with another dog.
- Create your own source of enjoyment. Gus believes that the best game in the world is one he developed called “Come on Gus.” When he is off leash, he holds back and waits for me to notice. I shout: “Come on Gus” and he runs at full speed into my open arms. Best game ever.
- Barking is fun, even though you get yelled at for doing it. Accept your punishment and bark on.
- Admit your mistakes and move on. If my other dog Annie is not patrolling her treat, it will disappear onto Gus’s dog bed. But when caught, Gus gives it up.
- If you don’t get what you want, “That’s okay,” there is something better on the horizon. Be happy for what you have. If Gus gets a slice of apple instead of a treat, he takes it graciously; knowing that the next treat may be better.
- Look as cute as you can at all times, and you will get a lot more attention. Learn cute expressions and body postures, the better they are, the more you get.
- Life is best lived sharing. Sharing love, sharing kindness, sharing treats (if you have to), but mostly sharing people.
- Kindness is contagious.
- You get more than you give. When my back is hurting, I will pat the area and he comes over, lies next to me, and acts as my heating pad. In return, he gets a night of snuggling
Never, ever stop searching for love. It is everywhere and it is up to you to find it.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.