Can Our Pets Teach Us Love?
It’s ironic that a loving pet can teach us about loving people and life. See what I mean in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
We always had a dog when I was growing up. From the earliest I can remember until my parents moved into a senior’s home, they had dogs. I loved them all. And I think they loved me. That’s how it seemed anyway. Do dogs feel love the way we feel love? How do we really feel love, anyway?
I was reminded of dogs last week when I spent some time at my son’s house. I don’t have a dog anymore and I miss it. Well, I miss parts of it. I miss that non-judgmental, eager attention of a dog. Every time I stepped out the front door, Ruth, the chocolate Labrador retriever, would be there in an instant. Her tail wagging a welcome, eyes looking attentively up into mine, almost a smile on her face. “Where are we going?” she seemed to ask, enthusiastically. She never complained about the cold night she spent outside, or the food somebody forgot to give her, or the fact that everyone ignored her during the Thanksgiving dinner. Ruth was always focused only on the present moment. The joy, comfort, fun, and love in this present moment. Dogs do that.
Can any of us do that? Can we live solely in the present moment? Most of you already know that’s the key to living spiritually. All the gurus and spiritual teachers have told you that. Whole books have been written about it. (Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle if you think I’m exaggerating.) It’s so simple, just six words. “Live in the here and now.” Yet soooo hard to do. How is it that dogs can do it? Isn’t that ironic?
Let’s try doing what dogs do. Can it really be that hard? Here’s how it works. Just like a dog, focus your attention completely on something or someone. Giving attention is giving love. That’s why we think our dogs love us—they give us their complete attention. They look into our eyes so deeply and completely that we feel love flowing from them to us—and back again.
Try that with the next person who speaks to you. Focus your attention on them completely. Look deeply into their eyes. I bet that’s too much love for you to handle. But there it is—simple. Don’t let your mind wander to what you had for breakfast, did you remember to brush your teeth, what time is it, this is taking too long, I’ll be late for work, he’s repeating himself, is he really that daft, I would have done things differently… That’s not focusing your attention on the other person. That’s focusing your attention on the thought stream in your mind. And that’s why you don’t experience all the love, joy, peace, and beauty that’s all around you. That’s being a human, not a dog. Try harder to be a dog.
You see, what really gives attention is your divine self. That thought steam in your mind is your false self, your egoic mind. The more you can set that thought stream aside and focus your attention completely on someone or something, the more you will experience your divine self, your real self. The more you will experience love, joy, peace, and beauty. Your divine self pours love on whatever it gives attention to. It is your complete and undivided (undivided by your thoughts) attention to someone or something that causes love to flow from you into the world. You feel this love. When you allow love to flow through you, it warms you up, like electricity moving through the wires of a heater. You feel love because you are allowing love to flow through you.
So simple, yet so difficult. The spirit is like that.
Give your attention—completely—and you’ll be overwhelmed by the power of love, peace, joy, and beauty coursing through you and into the world. The world will be better for it—but most importantly—so will you!
God Bless You!
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