5 Spiritual Life Lessons My Dog Has Taught Me
For the past 10 years my dog, Gus Gus has been there for me through thick and thin. He’s been there for all the fun adventures and road trips. He has been to different countries with me and lived in Mexico with me for 4 years. And through it all, with every break through, break down, break-up and challenge- he’s been right by my side. I learned so much about the true meaning of companionship, among other things, while walking this journey with Gus Gus by my side. Here are 5 spiritual life lessons my dog has taught me during our time together.
Practice Mindfulness – Living Fully in the Moment
One thing I’ve noticed in our 10 year time together so far is that Gus Gus never worries about the future- he is always in the present moment. For me, I’m always future tripping. It was how I was raised – to always look ahead and think (and most of the time, worry) about the future. Over the years I’ve seen how this way of thinking has held me back. I’ve missed out on so many opportunities and just simple, fun experiences due to the fact I was too busy obsessing over the future. At any given moment throughout my day I can turn around and see Gus Gus is just completely satisfied with the toys he’s playing with, or the snack he’s chewing on. Now, I understand that dogs do not have to worry about the intrinsic and mundane issues we worry about such as bills being paid, arguments that linger, etc., However, for example, if I took Gus to the dog park and he got into a little rumble with another dog, sure he’d be shaken a bit afterwards. I guarantee you he wouldn’t be laying on my bed for the rest of the day, going over in his head the fight that just took place, mulling over who’s fault it was or who started it. On the contrary. Gus Gus simply lives in every moment that he experiences.
Every morning without fail at 7am Gus Gus wakes me up, jumping on my side of the bed to wake me up, excited, happy, licking my face and ready to start the day. It’s a brand new day. It doesn’t matter what happened the day before- this little guy just wakes up and is amped up to be spending the day together. If there are days where I have a meeting, a gig, or just spending the afternoon with some friends, I’m ALWAYS greeted with as much enthusiasm if I was gone for 30 minutes or 3 hours. Gus Gus isn’t concerned about time, and doesn’t hold a grudge if I come home a little bit later than expected. He is just so happy, and filled with gratitude- which makes me feel grateful to come home to such a happy dog.
Food Should Always Be Celebrated
After moving to Mexico, I realized that the tropical climate was affecting Gus Gus more than we had predicted. His skin was getting itchy and flakey, his appetite was changing, his water intake was different than when we lived in California. There was so many big changes for him. I started speaking to holistic vets that encouraged me to look into finding a more balanced and natural diet for him. His world changed drastically and to this day he still loved bone broth, his veggies, spirulina, turmeric, blueberries, cottage cheese and white meat. Of course, no matter WHAT is in his food dish, generally Gus Gus is super happy to eat it. As I was spending more and more time in the kitchen preparing both our meals, I slowly changed my own relationship with food. For a long time I had a huge love/hate relationship with the food I ate. This relationship ran deep and goes into my eating disorder I had during high school. I never looked at food as nourishing. I never celebrated the food I ate. I never felt gratitude when creating a healthy meal. I was always filled with anxiety, stupid worries, and insecurities. Once I began meal prepping for the two of us, I found joy in the kitchen. I found a new way to be creative. Now, whenever I’m making a meal – I find reasons to be joyful and celebrate the nourishing food we’re about to eat.
Understanding Unconditional Love
As I’ve mentioned in previous lessons I have learned, independent if my day was good or bad, Gus Gus doesn’t care. He’s ALWAYS there to greet me with love and excitement. He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t keep score. He’s just always there for me, no matter what. Always full of love to give.
In this human experience, we often like to keep score. We create complex scoreboards in relationships, friendships, work relationships, family connections and other interactions. A scoreboard mindset is based on the foundation of fear and often leads to resentment. By having a scoreboard mindset it makes it nearly impossible for love to flourish, let alone understand the meaning of what unconditional love is. Unconditional Love means that you love fully and with an open heart. One important lesson I’ve learned if that YOU must treat yourself with unconditional love before you can truly give it to someone else. Gus Gus has taught me over the years that after every huge mistake, regression or issue I find myself in, he’s not there to remind me how I messed up in the past, or how I didn’t do the right thing, he’s just by my side, ready to cuddle and love me and just be the all time awesome dog that he is.
Principals of Patience + Faith
Patience is the ability to wait without worry or complaint. When I first got Gus Gus, he was a tiny little puppy, and I lived in San Francisco in a 3 floor walk up in an apartment that didn’t allow any pets. As I went through the long nights of his feeding schedule, to the low-key stealth potty training (imagine training this dog to tell me when he needs to go by sitting at the door, putting him into one of my messenger bags, running down the stairs, going through the basement/storage area and taking him to the alley to relieve himself.. sometimes 5 times a day) It was a long 2 weeks- but I learned that I had to be patient with the learning / training process.
Most recently, when I came back from Mexico this last April, it was such a chaotic time I didn’t have the funds or time to get Gus approved to come back to the states with me. I had several friends watch him and I knew he was in good hands, however somehow Gus got bit by a tick and eventually ended up getting Lyme disease. The disease didn’t really flare up until after he came back to California with me a few months later. It was a very stressful Summer. And although I had one of the best vets, he kept telling me this whole process is going to just take a lot of time for him to fully heal. There was a point when I didn’t think he was going to make it, honestly. I could see the disease affecting his motor skills, he was lethargic. I just had to stay positive, stay patient, and give him his medicines at the precise time throughout the day. After 3 weeks I saw a big change in his demeanor. It was tough on me emotionally and mentally. But one thing that I will always remember is how every time I stared down at his scruffy little face, his eyes were never sad, he never seemed uncomfortable. I just felt a huge sense of relaxed energy from him. Almost as if he was telepathically trying to tell me, “It’s gonna be ok. Just give me time”.
As I write this, I’m currently in my bed, with Gus Gus snuggled at the base of my feet. He’s always been a great foot-warmer. I’ve realized that throughout my 10 years together with this little scruff ball, I have learned SO many lessons. But one thing that is always in the back of my mind, is that one day, Gus Gus is going to leave this world and hopefully his puppy spirit will be having a blast somewhere- wherever dog spirits go after they leave their companions. So I suppose the ultimate spiritual life lesson I’ll be learning during our relationship together is letting go. At some point, our furry four legged friends move on. And all we have left are the memories, the pictures, toys, and ashes. Every day I make it a point to give Gus Gus tons of kisses on his little tummy, place our foreheads together and thank him for being one of the best Gurus I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I thank him for all the lessons he teaches me. I thank him for his unconditional love. And I also thank his spirit for choosing me to be the one who takes care of him.