Yup. I'm obsessed with my dog. He is the absolutely cutest pain-in-the-butt ever! He is just as much a member of my family as I am. And you know what? I think that there's a lot I could learn from him.
If you are a dog owner yourself, I think you could probably agree with me that the love that dogs bring into a home is unmatched. Morton is so good at calming me down and making me smile when I'm feeling sad or stressed out. He greets me with cheer, and he is absolutely devoted to our family.
Here are a handful of lessons that I've learned from this champion:
1. Love shouldn't be conditional
Loving someone, or showing someone love shouldn't be based on what they "deserve." This is especially true with a spouse. We can't only love them to the degree that we feel like we've received. That will turn into a downward spiral real quick. Instead love like a dog. Love one another regardless of what you've earned. Love freely and abundantly. And throw away your feelings of entitlement.
2. Draw near to one another
Yeah, yeah, yeah... texting and skype and instagram... whatever. There is something to be said for proximity. While obviously those virtual/more distant methods of staying in touch are better than nothing, they don't beat quality time together in person. I know this rings true for me with my family. They're all in Texas, and we're here in New York. We don't get a lot of in-person time together, which is less than ideal, so when I do get to see them, I basically follow them around like Morton follows Matt and I around. I want to be close to them. And I think that's important with friendships too. It's great to stay up-to-date with what's going on in people's lives via Facebook, but it's just not as good as having people over for dinner.
3. Be yourself
No need to put up a front. Be silly, show off, chase your own tail, do what makes you happy. People love to be around others who know who they are and aren't afraid to be goofy. That goofiness welcomes people in.
4. Naps are always a good idea
Bad day? Take a nap! I'm a huge fan of naps as little mini refreshers. Naps are good for love because 1. they make you less grumpy and 2. you can nap together as a family!
5. Snuggling is not just for chumps
This kind of goes along with #2. Morton makes me so happy when he lays next to me and puts his big ole head in my lap. And I feel the same way about hand holding, snuggling, and hugs. Physical affection is important.
6. Be one another's biggest cheerleader
This is huge. When we fall in love, I think part of what we fall in love with is the fact that our significant other makes us feel awesome. They greet us with joy and excitement. They make us feel like we do great work and have funny jokes and could take on the world! Sometimes when relationships continue on, we start to take things for granted about one another. We share less compliments and we get less outwardly excited about seeing one another walk through the door. I don't think this has to do with falling out of love or anything like that. I think we just assume the other person knows that we love them and we think they're great at stuff, and so we don't say it/show it. This is a lesson to be learned from dogs. Morton greets me with excitement every single time I walk through the door. It never gets old for him. We should be that way with our significant others. We should always be their biggest supporter, encourager, and cheerleader.
7. Be loyal to one another
Be faithful. Be loyal. Show each other respect.
8. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive
When I play with Morton, I can do really annoying things to him (like play with his paws like he's a boxer) and he just sits there, happy that I'm interacting with him. He is so patient and so full of love that he doesn't get upset quickly. And when he does get upset, like if I accidentally step on his tail, he almost immediately forgets the wrong and moves forward with love.
9. Communication is key
Making sure that we communicate rules with Morton, as well as communicate love and affection is so important. He only can understand what we communicate to him. Same goes for relationships with people. We only know what we have communicated to one another. We can't make assumptions that our significant other should know what we want or how we feel if we haven't told them, just like I can't assume Morton knows that I want him to go to his crate if I haven't told him.