Life Lessons From A Wise Dog

Katie Young
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Wednesday - September 07, 2005

In a million years, it would never occur to Mr. P, the wiener dog, that he is, in fact, a dog.

Mr. P (short for Pono), prefers to live his life masquerading as a rather short, furry human. He likes to stand up on his hind legs and use his two front paws as tiny hands to maneuver objects and pull things apart.

I wake up in the morning and there’s Mr. P, with his head facing mine on the pillow - his long body stretched out like a sea cucumber below the comforter, and his little arms flopped over the top of the sheet as if he tucked himself in. It’s the funniest thing to wake up face to face with a snout, beady eyes blinking innocently at you as a long pink tongue pops out to offer a silent but slobbery, “Good Morning”

- ugghhh, doggie morning breath.

Occasionally, Mr. P even gets the urge to “spoon” me (his wiener dog body reaching from my head almost to my waist), and I awake to small paws pressing against my back and little whiskers on my ear.

When I come home at the end of the day, the sound of my voice prompts Mr. P into fevered conversation - a combination of sounds that is something like a howl and a whine, but sounds, one could argue, that also resemble my own daily conversations with Sebastian.

I swear I can tell what Pono is saying to me. “Hi, Mom, I missed you. I’ve been all alone today and I was really bored. You were away too long. I don’t like to be alone. Is it time for you to throw the ball yet?! Oh wait, but first can I have a kiss? You forgot to say hello properly ... and then can I have a snack, and then can we play? Puuhhhleeze?!”

In this dog lover’s opinion, Mr. P would make the perfect human anyway, so I don’t try to dehumanize and re-doggify his behaviors. In fact, there’s much that I have learned from my pooch that can be applied to my own life.

* When you do something wrong, be remorseful right away. Say you’re sorry and give the offended party a big hug and kiss.

* Never pass up an opportunity to use the bathroom because you never know when the opportunity may present itself again.

* Sunbeams are a warm, cozy place for a nap.

* To get the attention of the people you love, sometimes an elaborate display helps. Mr. P favors rolling around on his back on the floor with his four legs jabbing in unison at the air.

* Be clear about your life’s priorities, whatever they may be. Even though Mr. P’s priorities may err on the side of simple, I think it’s still a good regimen to include fun, love, family and food among your top priorities in life.

* Tomorrow, all is forgotten. A new day is a new day. Don’t hold grudges or judge loved ones, friends or even foes. Live each day as if it is your first and last.

* Express your love openly when your family comes home. Dogs are the best at this. Pono always hears my car pull into the driveway and sprints to the back door to await my entrance. He’s always happy and excited to see me, and demands a big kiss before I’m allowed to do anything else. We should all greet our loved ones with such enthusiasm.

* Running in circles can be fun sometimes.

* Get a different perspective to tackle big problems. Climbing up on the couch, hanging upside down, or backing into a tight space are just a few options.

* Enjoy being outdoors. It’s always a good feeling to have the wind in your face or blowing through your hair.

* Be passionate. Find something that brings great passion to your life. One thing is enough, but more is always better. In Mr. Pono’s case, his passion is chasing racquetballs, de-husking tennis balls and pulling all the stuffing out of his toys to get to the squeaky device. Nothing could tear him away.

* It’s nice to share. Even though Mr. P is very protective of his toys, when asked (I’m not kidding here) to “share” with my best friend’s chihuahua, Sam, Mr. Pono used his snout to roll one of his favorite purple balls to his little friend to play with. (See, I told you Mr. P understands human speak!)

* Asking for a belly rub is nothing to be ashamed of.

And finally: * Don’t touch my butt if I don’t know you. We all need our personal space and Mr. P is no different. It’s a curse of dogdom that everyone wants to pet you if you’re cute and have soft fur. But for all the rubs, scratches and pats he enjoys from the people closest to him, Pono is always wary of strangers who wander too close. If they don’t introduce themselves first before starting to scratch his backside, Mr. P will use his quick reflexes to spring backward and attempt a nip at your hand, as our friend Jay found out recently. The lesson here is it’s always best to introduce yourself properly.

So says my dog, who thinks he’s a human.

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