Life Lessons 101: Taught By My Dog, Zoe

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As some of you may remember, I have a yellow lab named Zoe (along with a new puppy adopted from the shelter and three cats). When my husband and I brought Zoe home though, our lives changed forever! She is full of character and enthusiasm, to say the least. While I’ve been taking her to obedience training classes to get her to learn how to behave well, she is not the only one that has been learning new things. Zoe has taught me some very valuable life lessons that I think may help others too.
So what are these valuable lessons that I have learned from Zoe? Well, first of all, something that I have observed everyday with her is that she makes everything fun. And when I say everything, I really do mean EVERYTHING! No matter what we are doing, she somehow finds a way to turn it into something fun for everyone involved, especially her. When I see her make things fun, I think to myself, what a great idea! There are plenty of things that aren’t necessarily fun to do (perhaps for you it is tracking your food and/or exercise for the day, doing chores, going to work, etc.), but why not look at some of those tasks as something fun. Making some of those tasks into games of some sort can help add a “fun factor” to them and they won’t seem so bad. When you track your food and exercise, you do get SparkPoints for that, so you do get some sort of “fun factor” from SparkPeople for doing that, but what I find more fun is seeing how my fitness improves, seeing how my clothes fit better, and noticing how much better I feel along the way. While these may not be seen as fun by Zoe, they may give you a better satisfaction and “fun factor” as you progress with your weight loss journey. Either way, I think it can be considered a win-win situation. By changing our perspective about these tasks, your attitude about them will likely change and allow you to add more fun in your day.
Zoe also lives in the moment  and certainly doesn’t plan out her day. Honestly, I don’t think she lives beyond the current moment. I’m the complete opposite though – I am constantly planning ahead, whether it is what I need to do in the next hour, day, week, month, etc. By doing that though, I know I don’t always live in the moment and enjoy the process that is currently happening. As I have observed more of Zoe’s behavior, I aim to live more in the moment and enjoy it for what it is, instead of planning my next move. Doing this will also allow me to have more fun and find a bigger “fun factor” in everything that I do.  An example from Zoe for living in the moment is that when we are out for a walk, she fully enjoys the walk for what it is – fun, time to explore and see things, meet new people along the way, and exercise. She’s not thinking about what she needs to do when she gets back home, she just wants to keep walking and do what she is doing in that very moment. This lesson is one that I am sure will take a while for me to get down, but I think it will prove to be very valuable for overall happiness for me (and for all of you).
The last lesson that I have realized Zoe has taught me is patience. We recently adopted a puppy from the shelter and he is now about 4 months old. Watching her with her adopted brother, Mac, I see that she has so much patience. Being nearly a year apart, they are in two different places mentally, and Mac is also in his teething stage. We’ll just say that he loves to play (well, they both do), but he also likes to chew on Zoe’s tail, all in play of course, but when I see that, I wonder if I could handle it as well  as her. I’m not so sure I would. I do like to think that I have a lot of patience though, but there are of course times that I don’t have as much. Going through a weight loss journey, it can be very difficult as it has its ups and downs, and I see posts on the SparkPeople Message Boards about people who are getting very impatient because they aren’t losing weight at the rate that they thought they should. I know that can be frustrating (I’ve been there, done that), but patience and continuing on with your healthy habits will help you see results in the end. Also, as a reminder to those of you that find you are getting to that impatient part of your weight loss, the scale doesn’t always tell the full story – make sure you are also taking measurements and using other non-scale measurements to see and realize the successes you are making every day and week. Having patience will go a long way and alleviate some of the frustrations you have.
I know there are many more valuable lessons that I will learn from Zoe (and Mac), and as I learn those, I will continue to share them with you. I think we can all learn quite a bit from our pets and that we can apply them to whatever journey we are in, whether it is weight loss, weight maintenance, weight gain, pursuing a new career or hobby, etc.

So tell me (and Zoe), how do these lessons apply to your journey? Do you have pets? If so, what have you learned from your pet?

Photo by Denise Tausig 
Note: The photo above is Zoe living in her fun moment at the dog park, but also being patient as she waits for me to take the photo so she can fetch a ball.