I have learned a lot by watching my dog, well puppy. He’s a 9-month old golden Labrador called Oscar. Among other things, as I wrote in a previous blog, I’ve learned to play more and also that I’m worthy of being loved.
A few days ago Oscar was attacked by an aggressive dog. It clamped its teeth onto his back. I can still hear his squeals of pain in my mind as its teeth held Oscar’s back in a vice-like grip.
It just wouldn’t let go. I eventually had to punch it to get it to release its grip. It was instinct as I’m certainly not prone to violence. Oscar had a bowel movement on the pavement on the way back home as his body processed some of the shock.
I called Elizabeth, my partner, on the phone and we went straight to the vet who, upon inspecting his wounds, proceeded to shave a 3-inch square on his back, clean the bite marks, and inject Oscar with antibiotics and pain relief.
When Elizabeth and I returned home we were so upset. Oscar? As the day progressed, he just wanted to play, as usual. We enjoyed games of ‘tug’ and ‘fetch’, and he also excitedly chased a ball as I tried to dribble it around him. To Oscar, it was over, done, forgotten, in the past. He was living in the moment. Humans are not like that at all.
Seeing the wound on his back throughout that day was a constant reminder to Elizabeth and I of what had happened. I had a wee cry later after I returned home from a short trip to the shop. The event was traumatic for me and I kept replaying the attack over and over again in my mind. I kept seeing the dog’s jaws clamped and hearing Oscars screams.
Oscar can’t see the wound. His only awareness of it has been the occasional flinch when he moves in a certain way. He then stretches his head around to his back, wondering, I assume, what the strange sensation is. But other than that he’s just, well, normal.
It’s been a reminder for me about living in the moment. Why can’t we be more like dogs? Life would be so much simpler, less stressful. So much stress for us is a product of processing events in our minds from the day, week, month, or even years before, reliving them over and over again. We complain about how things are or what a certain person said to us at work, or we stress about what might be.
We visit therapists who use clever techniques, which are helpful. We also learn how to forgive. Dogs? They just kind of shake it off.
I have often felt we can learn a lot from watching nature. Nature thrives by adapting to its environment. We mostly resist changes and, if we’re really honest, we mostly complain that things change. Dogs just go with the flow.
I’m taking a leaf out of Oscar’s book now. I’m spending more time living in the moment. The past few days have been more enjoyable. I have laughed more. I feel more relaxed. I find myself wondering why I don’t do this more often. But we get so caught up in what we need to do. I’ve found that I’ve actually got more done in the past few days, even though I feel I have done less.
When I know that I have work to do, I have a tendency to withdraw a bit from anything else I’m doing at that time. My mind shifts focus. It’s my thing, I suppose, that I’m working on changing as it can create stress. Even if I’m in a conversation, part of me is thinking about getting back to work. Now? Well, I’m giving what I’m doing my all. There’s no resistance, no stress, just more enjoyment and peace. Then I actually get more done, which is funny, and there’s then no guilt at thinking that I hadn’t given someone my full attention.
Oscar is on the road to full physical recovery. He is probably fully recovered already. He doesn’t know that some of the hair on his back has been shaved. It will soon grow back, covering up any indication of a past event. In his mind, it’s as if nothing has happened. He’s just enjoying life the same as he has done so these past 9 months.
He inspires me. I feel so blessed that he is in my life. I am much happier. He causes me to notice what’s around me with heightened awareness. Life’s colours seem richer than they were before, scents more descriptive, sounds more 3-dimensional. They’ve always been like that. I just haven’t always noticed. That’s the thing with living in the moment. We notice what has always been there.
We are more blessed than we realise. Start noticing your blessings now. There are more around you than you think!
Copyright 2021 David R. Hamilton PhD.