It’s unbounded. It’s limitless. It’s unconditional. What am I talking about? Only one of the greatest gifts we could ever receive. A dog’s love.
How many things in your life can you say offers all of those things? In my opinion, love, no matter who it’s for or from, should be ALL of those things. But, influences, circumstances, people and opinions get in our way.
A dog’s love is unlike no other.
I am not declaring, comparing or debating this love is equal, greater or more incredible than the love you experience with another being. I am only stating it is unlike no other, and truly one of the greatest loves of all time.
I mean come on! How many people actually kiss your whole face with their tongue? Even more, would you let them if they tried? I doubt it!
Let’s be real. If you are an absolute dog lover, this post is for you. If your tummy doesn’t flutter at the puppy pics on Facebook, you might not enjoy this so much. But, why don’t you keep reading anyways. Maybe I’ll surprise you. 😉
Today is about a very special dog. There’s many out there, this one happens to be mine. I’m so lucky! 🙂
Let me introduce you to Jackson. Jackson is my Guide Dog.
He’s a Black Lab and has been helping me see this world through his eyes for close to five years now.
[Click to Tweet!]
Jackson had some pretty big paw prints to fill. Especially following Hunter. My first Guide Dog who blazed a trail for over 10 years. It’s no small job to be a seeing eye dog. Their sole mission in life is to love me, keep me safe and be my eyes in this world. And all they want in return is… love. Well, treats are a close second! 😉
Having Jackson by my side 24-hours a day – no matter where I am – has presented me with many life learning opportunities. Here are a few valuable life lessons this amazing dog has taught me:
1. Stop and smell the flowers.
I do a lot of my shopping at my local mall, and to get to it, Jackson and I walk through a major grocery store. The first few times I went there with him, in one particular section, he would go really slow and even stop for a minute… and I would just lead him forward. One day, I decided to figure him out. We started walking through the store and like always he stopped. I leaned down and there he was… smelling a beautiful row of flower bouquets. I knelt down and picked one up and we sniffed them together. He was happy, we moved along.
Lesson: It only takes a minute. Stop. Look up. Look around. Take it all in and smile. Move on with your day. It feels good! 🙂
2. Let it go.
Let’s say you have an argument with your partner or your Mom. And, even though it’s resolved, you’re still hanging on to something they said or did. How do you feel? How much time do you waste thinking about it? Now what if you scold your dog for some reason? Maybe he did something wrong or didn’t listen to you. You raise your voice and shake your finger and he cowers down because he knows he did something wrong. “Mama’s mad!” You walk away and five minutes later he’s licking your face and you’re the one apologizing for being so harsh… “But don’t do that AGAIN, you hear me!” (Said in your sweetest voice ever!)
Lesson: Dogs don’t have the ability to hang on to the crap we do. They let it go! They want love. They want to show their love and get some back. They don’t care who’s right or who’s wrong. They just want everyone to be happy. Just give them a cookie and a kiss and all is wonderful again! (These animals are brilliant! ;-))
3. Enjoy each day like it was your last.
Here’s one of Jackson’s days:
- Wake up. Get kisses and Mommy massage. “Best massage ever!”
- Go outside. Come in for cookie. “Best cookie EVER!”
- Eat breakfast. “Best breakfast EVER!”
- Play with bear, then chicken. Oh there’s ball. “I love my toys!”
- Bark out window. Come? Crap! No barking! OH wait! Run, run! Cookie! “Best cookie EVER!”
- Go to work. I love to work. Smell the flowers. 😉 Come home. “Best work day EVER!”
- Eat supper. “Best supper EVER!”
- Snuggle with my family. Go night, night.
- Yawwwwwn. “That was the BEST…DAY…EVER!”
Lesson: Every day is the BEST day for Jackson and for most dogs I know. This has reminded me to enjoy more of the simpler things throughout my day. This has also reminded me that tomorrow isn’t here yet and yesterday is gone, so don’t worry about them. Today is truly all that matters.
4. Share your happiness.
Jackson is absolutely not afraid to express his utter happiness when someone he loves walks in the room. When he’s not working, he’s… well… just a dog. So, he wants to love and be loved by his favourite people. When my parents come over, Jackson runs to them, grabs toys for them, runs back and forth between them and us. It is extremely clear how happy he is. The same goes when some of our friends and family come over.
And you know what? It makes people really happy. They smile and laugh and feel the love exploding from this little Lab. It’s like he’s saying “Where have you been? I have missed you soooooooo much! I love you!” I can almost hear him say that every time.
Now, what if you felt that way every time you walked in someone’s home? Welcomed. Missed. Happy. Loved. Ever single time? How amazing would that be?
Lesson: No matter where I am or the situation I am in, I do everything in my power to ensure the person I am seeing knows how happy I am to see them. It’s in my nature already, but Jackson shows me that a little extra can make the difference in someone’s world.
5. Be whatever someone needs in that moment.
I was having a really bad day one day. Do you ever have one of those? An “I’m fat, everyone sucks and life’s a BE-ATCH kind of day!” Ya… you know what I’m talking about.
Well, a good cry was in order. The sobbing began. Jackson trotted over to me with his favourite toy. I took it and set it on my lap. He ever so gently lick some tears off my face, as if to say “It’s okay Mama.” This of course made me cry more! He then just stood over me for a while in my presence.
A few minutes later, he took his whole body and laid across my body and just blanketed me until I stopped crying. This wasn’t new to me as he does this when we snuggle at night. But, it was the first time he had ever purposefully used it to calm me. It was beautiful and the love I felt from him was overwhelming. It’s what I needed and all I needed in that moment.
Lesson: It’s difficult to know what others need in difficult times, but just go with your gut and let love guide you. It won’t steer you wrong.
6. Serve and give.
Jackson, Hunter and every other Guide and Service animal are gifts of love, safety, independence and pride. Every animal is a gift to this planet. They all have purpose here.
In fact, a Guide Dog’s only mission in life is to be the eyes in which I can see this world. That’s BIG! While in service, he is trained to keep me safe and out of harm’s way. But their service goes far beyond their trained mission.
Right from the beginning with Hunter, I was given the gift of independence and the ability and freedom to walk about this world on my own. He also gave me confidence in myself again, not just as a human but, as the woman I had become. Most importantly, I was given one of the greatest loves of all.
Jackson carries on his legacy happily and with more love than you can imagine.
Lesson: If you volunteer anywhere, help friends and family in need, or serve your community in any way, the ripple effect you are creating goes further than you can imagine. Your loving impact matters. What you do matters. No matter how big or small, just go out there and serve someone… somehow. And, give of yourself. Give your love if that’s all you have. Because that’s all it takes.
These are only a handful of things Jackson and his predecessor have taught me. I can only imagine what the rest of our journey together will bring. The only thing I know for sure is that like all of the lessons I’ve learned so far, unconditional love will be at the core.
“A dog’s love is the gift of unconditional love.” [Click to Tweet!]
I am so grateful for these amazing dogs. For the love and all the gifts they have brought to me, my life and to the lives of everyone they touch. I would also like to say thank you to Dogs With Wings here in Edmonton for providing me with two of the greatest beauties ever. You changed my life. They changed my life. Thank you so much!
Jackson and I would love to hear from you. Please comment, ask a question or share with us how your fur baby has impacted your life.