If any of you have been following my Instagram, you know that we’ve been dog-less for a couple of months now. Because September and October were filled with a lot of traveling (me starting to travel part-time to an office in Vienna + a wedding in the US and my husband with lots of business-related travel), we wanted our dog, Marley, to go somewhere where he feels comfortable. He does just fine in dog hotels (we have a great lady we send him to), but we didn’t want him to be there for so long. Also, it can get pretty expensive.
So we sent him to my aunt and uncle’s up in Poland. Aside from their three girls who are perfectly capable of tiring him out on a daily basis, Marley also enjoys really long bike rides through the forest with my uncle and fresh kielbasa that “falls” on the floor in their apartment. Honestly, my aunt & uncle’s house is like a 5* version of a dog hotel.
But now that we’ve finally got him back, I’ve been thinking about how much he means to us and what he contributes to us as a small family. My husband and I missed our daily walks in the park with Marley and our cuddles (especially now that it’s the winter season). But reflecting on our family, I realized that he also has taught us a lot about life. So I’ve decided to share with you the top 10 things my dog has taught me.
1. Responsibility & Organization
I would like to say that I had some semblance of organization in my life before Marley. I knew how to keep myself organized and was pretty responsible. But that sort of or was nothing compared to living with Marley. He’s a wonderful dog, but when I first met him, he was a 2-year-old pup that had lots of energy (and lots of love to give). He taught us to structure our schedules and life around our obligations to him. We had to plan for going out with him if one of us couldn’t, we had to plan on exercising him (or he’d go crazy in the apartment), and we had to plan things like the vet, his vaccinations and when to buy more food. Things like going to the club had to be considered with Marley’s schedule in mind. Slowly, we became very responsible. If I wasn’t organized before, I sure am now!
But that’s not to say that he makes our lives dull and boring. The opposite! He has helped us become a structured couple and constantly brings joy to our lives. The discipline he has instilled in us (inadvertently) is something that will help us when we decide to have children. Marley is a sort of kid-training dog.
2. Naps Are The Best – Anywhere, Anytime
Marley has this incredible ability to sleep everywhere (just like my husband). And the best part is that he sleeps like no one is watching. Over the years, I’ve seen this dog sleep in some of the weirdest positions and weirdest places. But who can blame him? Sometimes I wish I could just lay on the sidewalk and take a nap in broad daylight. But the sight of me doing so would most likely result in a police visit.
Even if sidewalk naps aren’t your thing, don’t forget to slow down occasionally and relax from the hustle and bustle of the world. If you’re busy preparing for an important get-together or trying are to get too many things done at once, winding down can help you revitalize and help you in the long run to your goal. Taking breaks and relaxing is a crucial step toward success.
3. You Can’t Control Everything
When Marley was younger, there were quite a few accidents in the apartment (we won’t mention that these accidents reduced once mommy came and fixed his diet and schedule). From accidental poops, peeing in the wee hours of the morning and vomits from bones eaten too fast to trash spewed all over the carpet because someone couldn’t resist tearing up the bag, Marley has quite the record. When he was younger, he didn’t hold his bladder very well (which was something we didn’t realize until later). There were quite a few times I’d woken up at 3 am and was sitting on the floor scrubbing poop from the carpet because someone had had an accident. No matter how much I can try to prevent these things from happening, preventing accidents is impossible. I can’t control things like this, just like how I can’t control if I get the flu or food poisoning. Sometimes accidents happen and you have to take them with a grain of salt.
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4. Time Is Precious
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Time isn’t something you can get back. If you love someone, let them know. Spend time with them. Make your time with them count. Marley is a part of our family who will always be with us in our hearts. That’s why we try to make every day count with him. His smiles, goofiness, and energy are all something we enjoy taking in. We go for adventures on the weekends, head out on vacation with him, mope around on rainy days and take lots of road trips with him. He’s a part of this family and we aim to spend as much time and give him as much love as we can.
5. Cuddles Make Everything Better
This goes for Marley and my husband. Marley has an uncanny ability to know if I’m feeling down or sick. He knows that I don’t normally let him up on the couch, but whenever I’m sick or sad, he always comes and asks for permission to join me. This is his way of comforting me. He hops up and rolls into a ball around my legs and spends the day with me there. His cuddles are everything from cute and warm, to circulation cutting sprawls. No matter what, we enjoy our soft and fluffy friend showing us his love for us with his cuddles.
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6. Always Be Excited When Someone Comes Home
This is a lesson I realized after a bit of time. Every time my husband or I would come home, Marley would show his excitement for us with his tail whacking the walls and our legs as if he doesn’t have any nerve endings in it. But now Marley isn’t the only one who’s wagging their tail when someone comes home! What started off as a joke of me pretending to be like Marley and wagging my tail when my husband came home from work, turned into a ritual. When my husband or I walk through the door and the other is home, we show them how excited and happy we are to see them. This is such a sweet thing to come home to after a long day at work, dealing with exhausting problems. What’s better than saying I love you by wagging your own tail?
7. Share Your Food
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Who doesn’t love food? Marley really loves food, mainly anything that’s meat or greasy or cooked in some sort of nice meaty broth, or it’s just barely touched meat. Basically everything meat. What doesn’t Marley eat? Veggies. Fruits. Things that aren’t meat. When we are grilling or cooking something delicious, you can bet he will be waiting for something to drop. He’s also got this incredibly cute trick where he lays his head in your lap and looks up at you with this puppy dog eyes so that you just can’t resist giving him something from your plate. I may not be a fan of feeding my pup stuff from the plate, but every once in a while something may ‘fall’ on the floor for him.
8. Be Curious
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I’m pretty sure dogs have more lives. Marley is a dog after my own heart. I am always curious, and he reflects that in just about everything he does. If I come home with groceries, he comes and sticks his head in each bag to smell out what possible goodness I’ve bought. If I show him an object, he sniffs it and licks it, trying to figure out if it’s edible. Even if it’s a box. We should all live life like this, curious to know what’s behind the corner and not being complacent just living. But I don’t recommend going around and licking boxes!
9. Be Loyal
Dogs are pack animals, and they usually look at their owners as the alphas of their pack. No matter how many times he’s ruined something and gotten in trouble for it, no matter how many cuddles and treats other people give him, he always comes back to us. He knows who his family is and that they are the best parents ever. We should all be loyal to our friends and family in this way. Loyalty is something we too often overlook in this day and age, but dogs will very much take it seriously.
10. Overcome Your Fears
Marley, my lovely Labrador mix, is a scaredy cat when it comes to water. I have never ever seen him jump from the shore or dock straight into the water. He’s the type of dog that has to pick out the straightest path to his target (the ball we threw into the water) before he can start swimming. But even so, he still splashes and jumps like some crazed deer straight into the water before he remembers he’s scared of it. It’s the funniest thing, and the fact that he lets his excitement take over him is adorable. So splash into your fears and overcome them. Even if you have to pick the straightest path to get there, do it. Marley can.
As you can see, Marley has taught us quite a lot over the years. What has your pet taught you about life?