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The Art Of Life Series: Be More Like A Dog

I´m writing this while the most relaxed dog in the world is lying on an armchair on the other side of the room. Cyber came to us 3 years ago. She was abandoned in a cage with her pack by a hunter. When she came to us, she was always restless and wanted to eat constantly. When she got food, she would run away with it instantly. She was always nervous and too eager to please. She had never been petted, she had never run freely or played with a ball. I remember her running around in circles for ages in our garden when she first came to our home. She couldn´t believe life could be that great.
It took time for her to start relaxing and to trust. Now she is enjoying her Spanish siesta paws up, showing her belly, eyes closed. All her essence is totally relaxed. Sometimes a part of me is wondering if she is even breathing when she is having her siesta. However, I know that, if I were to stand up and walk, she would first move her ears to follow my movements and then open her eyes if I left the room or went to pet her.

My other dog Lucky joined our family 3 years ago, two months after Cyber. Lucky lived the first 5 years of his life abused both physically and emotionally. When he first came to us, he looked always deeply sad. After living with us about 6 months he started to look like he is always smiling. All the people who meet him now are complimenting him, because of his charm and because he is always so happy.

These two dogs both have a very traumatic past but are now living a happy and full life. Many people with abusive and traumatic past never seem to get over their past. We create physical and mental disfunctions. We behave badly, often using the excuse of our past to justify our behaviour. Although the human being is more complex than a dog, there are things we can learn from them.


Dogs always expect the best. She doesn´t drag the past bad experiences with her to cloud her every day, but always sees her future bright.

Not taking loved ones for granted

Dogs are always very happy to see you whether you have been gone for a minute or for a longer period of time. They want to be close to you even if you were too focused on your laptop, tv or smartphone to notice them. Our human lives would be much more fulfilling if we behaved the same way.


Dogs notice your moods. If you are happy, they are happy with you. If you are sad, they will comfort you and try to make you feel better. If you are angry, they try and calm you down. If we weren´t triggered by other people´s emotions, but saw the real person behind them, we would behave like a dog. And we would have better relationships.

The ability to ignore the negative and not let past disappointments affect one´s love

If you have been in a bad mood or have been too busy and ignored your dog, he is always ready to be with you, sit with you and play with you. A dog doesn´t want to burden himself by holding a grudge, but always moves on. We humans would be very wise to follow their lead.

It took some time for Cyber to let anyone touch her when she joined our family. Now she is begging for being petted and always wants to lie very close. We humans also have the capability to teach our subconscious that even if someone hurt us before, does not mean that it will happen in the present in a safe environment. This opens us up to give and receive love again even after horrible events in the past.

Show your needs and expect them to be met

The dog knows how to ask for affection, food or a playmate repeatedly until she gets what she needs. A dog is never shy to ask and always expects her needs to be fulfilled even though the owner had been too distracted to notice her for a longer period. However, not any human, nor any animal for that matter, should be ignored time and again. Not any human or animal should be with someone who repeatedly disregards her needs and only concentrates on his/her own needs.

Be brave and stand up for yourself

Most, if not all of us, have heard about a pet who saved a life of his owner or his whole family. Small dogs have scared away a big burglar or an attacker who was threatening their owner. Instead of running away a family dog or a cat has woken up the whole family to save them from fire. Some dogs have saved the life of their owner by getting help, asking for it persistently by a passer-by although unable to use verbal communication.

If we all had the brave heart of a dog the world would be a better place for all of us. We would boldly realize our dreams, ignoring the little voice in our head whispering “You cannot. Don´t even try. You will fail anyway.” We would also stand up for ourselves when needed and for others when they for some reason cannot do it for themselves.

Walk away from situations, which are bad for you.

One day Lucky had enough of his previous owners ´rage and abuse and he ran away. He was found by a neighbour who knew why he ran off and Lucky was taken to safety. The owner was denounced, and his ownership of Lucky was taken away from him. After a few weeks since his escape Lucky came to live with us in his forever safe home.

Many people live in situations in which they are constantly suffering in one way or another. No one should live like that. It is not easy to walk away from an abusive relationship, and the longer it takes the harder it is to leave. However, we can choose to leave. When we acknowledge the fact that we deserve better and believe that after we leave, we will be like Lucky and find a good new life.
We humans have the advantage of making our own lives. Unlike dogs, we are free to leave whenever we want to. We are free to work, support ourselves, rent or buy a house, study, or do whatever it takes to create a new and better life for ourselves, get the love we deserve and find healthy relationships.
Against the odds, our dog Lucky escaped. It was a matter of free will, determination, strength and a bit of luck. If he could do it any human can.

Learn deeper communication skills

When we spend time with someone, like a dog, who cannot speak we need to find other ways to communicate. This is a very good way to get deeper understanding of others and ourselves. Nonverbal communication is also a great way to dig deeper into the inner lives of others and ourselves. In reality, very little can be expressed with mere words. Only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc).[1] So what you say is much less significant than how you say it or what kind of nonverbal ques you are sending.

Being content, happy and enjoying life

To key to being happy, content and enjoying life is to be more like a dog: value everything and everyone you´ve got in your life. Let go off the things and people you do not like. Do not spend too much time thinking what you don´t have, but concentrate on and cherish what you do have.
Enjoy the little things such as your every meal with your best animal or human friend, take time to play, rest when you are tired, make time for your favourite hobby/hobbies every day, preferably many times a day and only worry about the things you have influence over.



©Maaret Auvinen 2019

[1] Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, came to this conclusion through several studies he conducted on nonverbal communication.

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