All that I wanted as a child was a dog. Every single Christmas, I would rip paper from my school notebooks and write dog over and over, front and back, in the hope that Santa or my parents – or both – would surprise me on that special morning with a puppy.
Unfortunately, my grandmother was terrified of dogs and just so happened to live at our house for the first half of my childhood. I would never take that time back, of course, but it did mean that I couldn’t have the one thing I wanted most for many, many years. Perhaps that’s why Rosie was so special to me when I got her as a sophomore in high school.
Rosie was the absolute best dog that any first-time dog owner could ask for. She had a heart, but she also had tons of spunk. She’d walk for miles, bark at squirrels, hide her bones in sorted piles of laundry and lick our faces when we got home. Not only was she part of the family, she was also honestly everyone’s favorite member. That’s why her death last summer was so devastating to all of us.
With a few months to reflect, I’ve instead begun to look at my time with her with a smile on my face instead of with tears in my eyes. She taught me so much about life and friendship, and I’ll forever remember my first four-legged friend.
- No Plans? No Problem
In the Instagram age, it feels like we all have to be doing something exciting so we can crop, filter and post it for the world to see. I certainly have those moments, but my dog made me realize that I don’t have to do something crazy to have fun with my friends. Rosie would be perfectly content hiking through the woods in our neighborhood, catching the same tennis ball or lazing on the backyard deck, so long as she was doing something with one of us. I try to apply the same principles to my own life when I’m making plans – if we’re together, I’m happy.
- Don’t Be Shy
Rosie was a pro at making new friends. It probably had something to do with the fact that she was a super cute dog, but she had no fear about running up and greeting new people. I don’t know if I’ll ever be that brave, to be honest, especially when walking down the street. However, she does continue to inspire me to go to new places and put myself out there. I may not be a dog, but I think I have some likeable qualities that new people will appreciate, and I should show them off.
- It’s Fun to See Old Faces
I’ve moved away from my hometown and, since then, have allowed myself to get in the habit of grumbling every time I go out in the city where I grew up. I used to dread catching up with people I’ve fallen out of touch with over the years, especially when I felt like our lives and opinions on the world differed so greatly.
My dog, however, would be so excited to see anyone she recognized who walked through our door. In fact, the longer it had been, the more excited she was. I’ve found it’s easy to go through the small talk and really connect with my old classmates and friends if I keep my dog’s face in mind.
- Roll With the Punches
My dog loved to bark at squirrels. As much as I loved her, it could get to be a little annoying to hear her bark nonstop for minutes or hours as they ran through our backyard, seemingly just to tease her. If I disciplined her, brought her inside or closed the blinds so she could no longer see her rodent foes, it never changed the way she felt about me. She still wagged her tail every time I came home and every morning when I woke up to take her for a walk.
It’s normal to have disagreements with our human friends, too, and it’s easy to let those affect our friendships for long periods of time. I do acknowledge that there are some unforgivable things that humans do to one another, but usually we can and should take our disagreements in stride like doggies do.
- Show Your Love
Finally, always remember to give your friends a wag of your tail – not literally, of course. All dog owners know just how special it is to come home to someone who’s truly happy to see you and has no qualms with showing it. Rosie would race to the door as soon as she heard the garage open. She’d wag her tail and kiss my face, too, whether I had been gone for hours or months.
With her as my example, I’ve made it a point to do better in showing my friends just how much I care. Hugs, phone calls, random greeting cards, trips to visit them across the country…it’s all worth it when you love someone. Once they see you making your love so outwardly known, they’ll return it to you. As a dog owner, I know that there’s no better feeling than that.
Featured Image via Vinstage Tumblr.