When I first met Titan almost eight years ago, it was love at first sight, for both of us. He had been abused by his original owner and was now being fostered at a horse farm. My daughter and I were still reeling from the recent deaths of my husband, Chris, and one of our two dogs. Life was pretty awful for us and we believed that getting another dog would help with our grieving. We parked at the top of a small hill next to a horse pasture. The owner said to wait there and she would get Titan from the barn kennel at the bottom of the hill. A few minutes later, I hear a bark and up the hill bounds a life force that just radiated joy – it bowled me over! It was as if Titan was yelling, “Mom, I’m here to love and save you from despair!” Well, that may be a bit dramatic but I swear he was grinning. He licked my hand for about two seconds and then jumped into the back seat of my car. Obviously, I had no other choice but to bring him home.
Of all the dogs I’ve had in my life, and there have been many, Titan has undoubtedly shown the most unconditional love. His only desire in life, other than eating constantly, is to be at my side. He gazes at me continually and the moment I make eye contact with him, his gigantic tail starts thumping. One of my favorite stories is of when he met Jim, my now husband, for the first time. Jim sat down next to me on the sofa and put his arm around me. Titan reacted by jumping on the couch next to me and barking furiously within an inch of Jim’s hand. Jim jerked his hand away and smacked me in the eye. I spent the next few days trying to explain to everyone that my new boyfriend did not intentionally give me a black eye.
According to John D. Moore, Ph.D., dogs are the ultimate mindful creatures. Moore describes 7 tips about mindfulness that come to us from our dogs:
- Dogs live in the here and now. They don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future.
- They focus on self-care. Sleep, food, and play. They are “present” to the current needs.
- Your dog won’t hold it against you if you skip a walk. A pat on the head and all is forgiven.
- Dogs use caution. Have you noticed that they sense a storm in advance or the UPS man a block away?
- Dogs make the most of every moment. Dogs don’t think about the fact that they only live an average of 10-12 years. Every moment with you is a moment of happiness.
- Self-acceptance. Your dog accepts who she is – nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes she may act like the queen of your family, but that’s probably because she is!
- They are empathic. You know very well how your dog senses your every emotion. When you are happy, your dog will leap for joy. When you are sad, they will lie by your side as long as you need them to.
Titan has taught me so much about unconditional love and compassion. But, he is nine years old now and has very weak back legs and other problems related to his aging. I worry about him and think I’ll never make it through the death of another beloved dog. But Titan doesn’t worry; he just sits next to me and waits for me to rub his belly. You can learn a lot about mindfulness from a dog!