It’s been about 11 years since we adopted Calvin, the first pet of our lives. From reading a book called ‘The Encyclopedia of Dog Care’ to talking to many pet-parents, my father aided a comfortable entry for Calvin and we prepared ourselves to give good upbringing to our furry child. When my sister and I were at school, we used to debate endlessly to ascertain who was our parents’ favourite child was. But after we adopted Calvin, we dropped debating because we realized that he is our parents’ favourite child, for many a reason. Pets possess the innate ability to add colours and beauty to our lives and they fill up the vacuum that we even fail to recognize. They say that every single individual we encounter has a lesson to teach us. You just need to pay attention with an open mind and I have since learned that there are myriad of life-lessons that pets can teach too.
Calvin is just not a dog, who looks cute. He has a beautiful personality and an infectious attitude. Many do not realize that every dog is not the same. Just like humans, their nature varies from one to another. Having been extensively observing Calvin at close quarters, I have learnt some crucial life lessons from this unassuming little fellow. He is a great inspiration and a good stress-buster. He doesn’t have to use words to tell us how precious life is. But his life and the way he lives, teach many subtle lessons, which we may not always identify and imbibe. Calvin epitomizes a handful of positive traits. From the way he breathes to his attitude towards his life, everything about Calvin is Zennish. And as author Eckhart Tolle says, “Animals are guardians of being.” Their life is a celebration.
There are many lessons that one can learn from Calvin (or dogs in general). I have mentioned all that I have learned from him (like literally and a bit jocosely) –
- Rise along with the sun every day. Come what may! Be awake to enjoy the first ray. If others in the family are fast asleep, don’t hesitate to shower them with kisses. (If they continue to sleep, lick them lavishly. If they still sleep, bark at their ears.)
- Go for a super long walk right after you wake up. You take your daily dose of caffeine after the walk or before your exercise routine, it doesn’t really matter. But you should scale some distance every day. And on your way, ensure that you socialize with everybody whom you encounter. Because it’s nice to smile and have a good conversation once in a while.
- Poop in the morning without fail. (I am not going to dwell into this point for obvious reasons!)
- Calvin believes in following a routine. So have your breakfast on time. And it also means that you should have your lunch and dinner on time too. And of course, consume your fruits on time. He loves fruits!
- Steal some time for siesta. It makes a lot of difference. (Sorry, he doesn’t like the word ‘catnap’. Sigh!)
- Spend some time outdoors in the evening. House and office are indeed claustrophobic. Play anything that will exhaust you and make you feel better.
- Lounge on the sofa and do nothing for a while, every day.
- Admire yourself in the mirror once in a while.
- Be active and enthusiastic.
- Receive your guests with genuine love. (Avoid jumping on them and licking them. It might create adverse effect! J)
- Display your love for your loved ones. Kiss and hug them often. (Technically, Calvin can’t hug. But he tries to do something like that). Just make them feel loved.
- Understand what is unconditional love and practice it wholeheartedly. (That means, we will not hold grudges and we will learn to forgive).
- Be open to learning and feedback regardless of your age and experience. (Yes, in his doggie world, Calvin is older than all of us. But when he doesn’t behave himself, he gets an earful from all of us. But the little boy takes everything in his stride.) He doesn’t really believe the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
- Spread cheer. Be positive. He has never complained in his life.
- And I’m sure that he counts his blessings. I am certain that he thanks his doggie world God every day for blessing him with a super-cool family and a happy life.
- He believes in being ‘here and now’. He doesn’t bother about his past and future.
- Listening is a virtue too. Not everybody, who talks to us, needs solutions for their problems. Most of the times, they just need a couple of ears that can listen. And Calvin masters the art of listening.
- Spend a lot of time in Nature. Be it just bird watching, playing with the waves, rolling in the beach-sand or watching the sun set. One should always be in touch with the nature.
- Be non-judgmental. Calvin doesn’t care about how rich you are, what car you own, how beautiful you are, how good is your English. To him, you are his friend. Period.
- While he chooses not to judge you, he trusts that he will not be judged too. So he doesn’t pretend to be what he is not. He is not ashamed to be himself.
- Loyalty, which is often considered a dying art, is Calvin’s middle name. Maybe, he is naturally impervious to vice. But he never forgets the hands that feed him and the hands that pet and embrace him.
- Calvin doesn’t show-off. He doesn’t swagger. He is a natural at being humble.
- He knows the difference between snarling and biting and he knows when he must just snarl and when he must sink his teeth in one’s skin.
- Go to bed early and dream of all your favourite things.
I understand that some lessons that Calvin teaches are practically unattainable unless we begin to walk on four legs. But in my opinion, many lessons that dogs teach can be practiced, if only we choose to.
About Deepika Ramesh-Thirugnanasambandam
Deepika Ramesh-Thirugnanasambandam is a freelance writer and lives in Chennai with her husband, parents, a canine brother and a canine daughter. Before assuming the role of a writer a couple of years ago, she worked in a BPO for six years and chose to come out of the closet and became a full time writer when she couldn’t resist her addiction to words. And when one’s hobby becomes his/her occupation, one doesn’t have to work a day right? She writes during the day to pay bills, buy treats for her fur babies and perpetually dreams to nourish her soul. She reads because it is the easiest route to escape from reality and she writes because she likes helping others escape too. As she firmly believes that ‘Man is just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur’ (Thanks Ayn Rand), she chooses to love, smile, hate, read, write, help and see life pass by.