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May We Be Who Our Dogs Think We Are

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy a good quote, idiom, or saying. These same people who know I enjoy a good quote, also know that I have a terrible memory. I have a notes page on my phone that I catalog good quotes when I hear them. I’ve been doing this for five or six years and have amassed a few pages. These quotes range from inspirational to comical, and everything in between.

My wife and I have grown up with dogs in our families since childhood, and I don’t see a time that this will ever change! We currently don’t have any children, but we are the proud parents of two rescue pups, Harvey (8) and Wesley (3), who both have Transylvanian Coonhound roots.  

We found Harvey at the Martinsville, IN Humane Society when he was 3 months old, and he’s been a part of our family ever since. Harvey is such a chill dog that we’ve always joked that he’s secretly an old man. Wesley came from a family who posted a Craigslist ad when he was 1 year old saying that they were getting rid of him because they were moving to a farm (yes that was their real reason), and weren’t able to take him. I’m pretty sure it may have had more to do with what we soon learned after getting him: he is a handful of hardheaded hound energy, but he is one of the sweetest affectionate dogs you could hope to meet.

The quote, “may we be who our dogs think we are” was a toast that I heard at some occasion, somewhere. At surface level, I thought that it was a clever, quick little toast that I would store away and use at some future occasion, so into the notes page it went! Later, when I was reading through notes on my phone and came across this saying, it hit me much harder than just a clever toast. I really began to think about what it meant, “being who my dog(s) think I am.” That is a TALL order! To my dogs, I’m like a superhero. I say this humbly, but I can do things that are impossible (literally) for them, like rub their tummy, or pick up things like their food with my apposable thumbs. Their being is in my control – whoa!  

All that dogs give to us; trust, respect, friendship, loyalty, unconditional love, come as they get to know us for the best of who we are. Just think, what if we were able to live up to being who our dogs think that we are? What kind of person would we be? What kinds of things would we accomplish? I have come to use this thought as a kind of anthem that helps keep myself in check, a type of litmus test. The expectations are high and unfiltered. My dogs don’t care if I’ve had a good day or a bad day, they don’t judge me for gaining weight and losing hair, and they will never turn away my affection. The opportunity for failure is on my side of the relationship. If I could be who my dogs think I am, there is no doubt I would be a better person. Here are a few thoughts to ponder…

May we be great providers

I don’t mean only providing financially for a nice home because really, my dogs couldn’t care less where we live or what I do for a living. They count on me to provide care for them, food, guidance, shelter, direction, etc. They don’t know how I get the food, but they do know that they can count on me to provide it. Some things provided aren’t loved as much as food, like visits to the vet, but they do trust me and go along with the visit. They trust that I will provide whatever is best for them. In our human interactions, we 

daily provide for many people in our lives who are in need of a variety of things. It can be providing love, food, friendship, attention, medical, financial, etc. Providing for people in our lives isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it is worthwhile and rewarding in striving to do so without being asked.

May we be great friends

May we be as good a friend as our dogs are to us. Even without speaking verbally dogs provide great examples of what friendship looks like. Whether I’ve been gone 10 minutes or 10 hours they have missed me, and are sure to let me know when I return. Good day or bad day, they are always eager to listen, sitting attentively, not understanding a word, but giving me all of their attention. They are able to keep strict confidence, and don’t gossip when I make a mistake, and when I walk into a room, my dogs pay attention, and are interested in what I do.

Our human friends deserve to be treated with as much respect and loyalty as our dogs afford us. You cannot really get in a fight with your dog; you can get mad at them, but they still want nothing more than to be your friend. Have you ever caught your dog doing something bad and then they try really hard to make you like them again? Your attention and friendship are literally the things that your dog craves.

May we be great leaders

Dogs are instinctually pack animals that need leadership. You can’t simply promote yourself to alpha leader; it is a position given by the pack followers, not because you are stronger, but because the pack believes you are a good leader. Pack leaders protect and provide direction for their followers in an unselfish manner. They also have set rules for the pack to follow, not just for the sake of following, but for pack preservation and strength. Dogs also have the amazing ability to live in the present moment. As a leader, this allows them to not regret the past, or worry about tomorrow, but instead, use crystalized knowledge to make informed decisions based on current circumstances, making for a grounded, and level-headed leader.

Trust is a large part of leadership, and it is amazing the amount of trust my dogs have in me. I can literally offer Harvey anything to eat and he will take it, no questions asked. I only keep this trust because it isn’t abused. In fact, dogs respond very negatively to any type of abuse. Yelling, hitting, kicking, spanking, aren’t really things that dogs understand, and they certainly don’t corollate it to trust or leadership. If anything, all that abuse does is create a wider gap in the relationship, and a more aggressive or fearful dog. Instead, to be a trusted leader you have to understand that they want to follow you, they want you to set the structure, and they want to gain your approval. I believe this to be true in humans as well. Although it may not be employees, we are all presented opportunities to lead; a pack of dogs, children, friends, the list goes on. These leadership skills are fundamental across the board.

As you may have gathered through this blog, I’m a dog person. I think dogs are wonderful companions and, like many animals, offer us a great opportunity to learn important life lessons. I hope that this clever little quip may also leave you contemplating your own thoughts on being great. Remember – many of the people (and dogs) in your life already know that you are!