Lesson 1: Live selflessly.
Max teaches selflessness but being the most selfish creature I know. His needs ALWAYS go before my own. He requires to be fed once in the morning and once at night. He will only eat his breakfast after his morning fetch game (because just a walk is not going to cut it) and he doesn’t care how cold it is either. Max gives absolutely two shits if I went out last night and got home late, he gets up at 6 AM and so will I. Even as I try to type this post he is demanding attention (I distracted him with some peanut butter, so we are good). Putting the needs of others before your own is part of growing up and maturing. Max consistently teaches this valuable lesson, and it inevitably creeps into the rest of my life. By practicing selflessness with Max it becomes a habit of going though the world, where joy comes through helping others and it feels good.
Lesson 2: Early riser gets the squirrel.
Max is an avid (thankfully unsuccessful) squirrel hunter, runner and retriever. These activities must begin promptly at 6AM, 6:30AM at the latest and occasionally 7AM. During the week he will wait for the alarm to go off on my phone, then jump on the bed. If I do not rise with the initial jolt of his 70 pound body, then it is a swift bop to the head with a heavy paw. Then, as I roll to my stomach and begin to push my body up, he will nudge his snout under my chest and lift up… just in case I thought of collapsing back on the bed. If all else fails, he will bark the highest pitch squeal that will send me leaping out of bed (it usually don’t come to this, but in extreme conditions it’s very effective). On the weekend he does not require the alarm, he instinctively knows exactly when it is 6 AM and proceeds accordingly. I used to resist these early mornings, specially on the weekends. I would yell at him and tell him to go back to bed, he would begrudgingly listen (when the Spanish comes out, he knows I’m serious). However, now I go with it, I get up, we do our morning routine and I start my day. Since going with the flow of getting up early with Max, I have drastically increased my productivity level. I am able to get so much more done and feel great about taking advantage of the entire day.
Lesson 3: Daily fresh air and exercise is a must.
On occasion I have days were I really just want to Netflix binge and hide from the world. Well, that’s not going to fly in Max’s world. At a minimum, he needs to go out to do his business, but he also needs to check his “p-mail”, and get a good amount of exercise in. So, whether I like it or not, cold, rain, or snow, I will be outside with him. Sometimes, when I am in my ‘hide from the world’ phase, it is really annoying. However, once I am out there it feels so good to be outside breathing some fresh air and walking around. Now, sometimes when I need to take him out and haven’t worked out yet, I will kill two birds with one stone (Max loves that analogy) and we will go for a run.
Lesson 4: Be social, but unwanted humping is not cool.
On one of those days that I really didn’t feel like going outside, Max insisted that he wanted to go to the dog park. So it’s Max’s world and I just live in it, we went. That was the day I meet my friend Robby and his two dogs Maxie and Bones. Robby is still one of my good friends I hang out with here in DC. Hi Robby. When we go to the dog park, Max’s main priority is to play fetch, he cares very little for the dogs around him. He will politely sniff and say hello, but then return to the game of fetch. He is friendly, just don’t get in the way of his game, and don’t hump him. Those are two quick ways to piss him off. He has a few dogs which he loves, and plays so awesome with. One of those select pals is my friend’s border collie Seamus. Those two are great together! Max will play fetch and Seamus will try to herd him. It’s a win win. The lesson I think Max is trying to get across here is, it’s important to be social and friendly, but what really matters is to have a few truly awesome friends that inspire you and keep you in check. Keep those people close because they will only make you better.
Lesson 5: Love unconditionally.
Max loves me unconditionally and I him. He never holds a grudge and I can never stay mad at him for too long no matter what trouble he gets into. No matter how many long hours I work, or cut his workout routine short, he will show me that he is annoyed, but still loves me. When I am sad, he cheers me up just by being there and being cute. He keeps me warm when I am cold, and gives me company when I am lonely. I can be a complete fool around him and he doesn’t care, still loves me the same. In doing so, he teaches me how to love, and those habits of unconditional love seep into all my other relationships. Loving another person unconditionally is scary and risky, but the greater the risk, the greater the reward. And here is the thing, when you love unconditionally, more people will unconditionally love you!
To think I almost never got Max and there was some point when it was all too much work and stress and thought about giving him way. Mom knows best. She told me there never really is an ideal time to have a dog, or kids, etc. If you want it and ready to make the commitment, you just do it, and the rest will sort itself out. As far as giving him away, that was not even a conversation. She never used these words, but I think if I gave away my dog, she would disown me. I think it was a lesson on commitment. You can’t bail when things get tough.
If you have a dog, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t have one, consider getting one. Be sure you THINK you are ready to make the commitment, because you never are truly ready for dog ownership. Pay careful attention to the type of dog you get and one that matches your energy level. Max is a black lab, so he is very ambitious, high energy, and head strong. If I was not as active as I am, Max and I wouldn’t have been a good fit. All dogs are awesome, and all have different lessons to teach, depending on what you need to learn. In the end, they are a reflection of you.
Share some of the lessons you have learned from your dog. If you have any questions or comments on picking a dog or dog ownership please let me know. It takes a village to raise them right. If you enjoyed, please like and follow for more posts on the lifestyle of TICOS PACE.