Julie Nelligan PhD | Four Lessons From My Dog
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Four Lessons From My Dog

2016-04-08 16.13.38

Meet my German Shepherd, Echo. He’s loyal and bonded to me. He is also protective and shows good judgment about other people. His favorite activity is to catch or fetch balls I throw for him. He does it like it’s his job—with intensity and passion. Echo sets a good example for us all.

1. He likes to work and does his job with passion. Even the little jobs, such as catching balls, “hunting” flies, and encouraging me to take a break. Are you doing your jobs with passion? Do you appreciate the meaning of those small everyday, annoying tasks? These small tasks are often the result of abundance in our lives. For example, if you own a car, there is maintenance involved. The annoyance of having to change the oil in the car wouldn’t be there if you didn’t have the resources to own the car in the first place. Appreciate the small, annoying things in your life and do them with passion (or at least willingly).

2. He is a good follower but knows when it’s time to lead. He naturally walks either beside me or behind me. He takes direction from me really well. Although I know if there were a threat, he would readily step up to do his job of protecting his “pack.” How well do you follow in your relationships? Do you know when to follow and when to lead? This is especially important in partnerships. I could probably write an entire book on relationships and partnerships, but the important point here is to know the importance of not always having to be right and being willing to go along with your partner, even if you don’t agree.

3. He doesn’t hesitate to do things he enjoys. It’s Spring here in Oregon. The grass is growing and in the morning it is covered in dew. When I let him out to “do his business,” he flops down in the grass and rolls and rolls and rolls. He wiggles around and pushes his nose through the thick, damp grass. So often we put work ahead of pleasure and forget to play. What do you enjoy doing and when was the last time you took the time to do it?

4. He doesn’t take rejection personally. Echo is great at asking for what he wants and not taking it personally when I say, “No.” I tell Echo ‘No’ frequently. He just sits down for a while and then asks again. People usually take “No” personally. If we don’t get a return call, or our friend can’t hangout with us, or we don’t get the sale, we wonder if it was something about us that put the other person off. The truth is the message is rarely about us. Even if the message is a rejection, it’s still not about our worth or value. When someone doesn’t like us, it’s because we aren’t meant to be in relationship with them or the relationship has served its purpose and is over. It’s not because we are ‘bad’ in some way.

When you are faced with challenges ask yourself what you can do differently. Is there another way to look at things? Can you appreciate the circumstances that require you to do the little jobs? Can you take care of your relationships by paying close attention to what your partner is asking for and what they need? Can you take time to enjoy yourself? Can you understand what rejection really means and not take it personally?

It really helps to take a different perspective, even if it is from your dog.

Julie
julie.nelligan@gmail.com
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