5 things a foster dog taught me about life
I’ve always been a dog girl! From as young as I can remember we had a dog.
Our first one was called ‘Carn’, you know like ‘Carn the Crows’ (it’s a footy term penned in later years by the Adelaide Crows fans – could my Dad foresee the future?). He was something like a Jack Russell, black and white and energetic. One day he just wasn’t there and I never understood why.
Then when I was around 10 we got another dog affectionately named ‘Nip’ because when we collected her all she did was try to give us little nips (bites) on the way home.
Moving into my own home at the age of 18, I got a Rottweiler called ‘Cody’ and shortly after she got a friend, a German Short Haired Pointer called “Tia’.
As you might have noticed, personally, I’m a big dog girl. I think what I love about them most is their big personalities, their ‘I’m more like a human than a dog’ belief, and their big warm cuddles.
Since moving to Melbourne 10 years ago it became apparent to me that apartment living and a VERY social life discovering this new city was not conducive to having a 4 legged friend. But as time has passed and I started living the home lifestyle in suburbia my want for a dog has grown more and more over these last 6 years.
For 6 long years I have again yearned for unconditional companionship like no other.
So a year ago I brought the topic to the table in my relationship. I can’t say that it was received with big warm smooshy kisses of joy. You see I tend to be the risk taking daredevil type whilst the King is more of a ‘play it safe’ kind of guy with these types of things.
So I let it sit on the back burner. But more and more I knew it was time for my family to grow.
So after months of researching the Lost Dogs Home and Lort Smith websites I came across Lawrence.
And I watched for weeks and weeks as his profile lay stagnant on the adoption page, like he was waiting for me. He then became the Channel 7 Dog of the Week where he got a guest promo on the news!
I couldn’t wait any longer, surely he would be snapped up in a heart beat. So I commented straight away on the Lort Smith Facebook page and told them I would be ringing the next day. And so the journey began.
You see Lawrence is not like any other dog and that was why he was in the shelter for so long. He was anxious from being confined and surrounded by so many other dogs. And when that anxiety and fear is activated by external triggers then he gets defensive and his big bark appears more aggressive than it really is. He just needed a little more training and a little more love. He needed a chance, an opportunity, to break the ‘beliefs’ attached to his bigness, his looks associated with his breed, and I was ready to give that to him. Over the next few weeks, and some tears in convincing the rest of my household to give him go, he came into my life.
Each day is an opportunity for us all to find our place in the family, discover nuances about each other and set boundaries.
And in the process I’ve learnt so much from him that we ALL can learn from.
You've got to have structure
Without some level of structure to your day, it turns into a crazy mess of energy and turmoil.
When you set up the day by taking care of the things that are ‘core’ then the rest of the day can be whatever you wish. Dogs need the structure too in order to know when they’re going to get walked, fed, enjoy inside time and outside time, and when it’s play time and rest time.
Do the same for yourself and you can reduce the feeling of overwhelm.
Life is not all about me
So often we get caught up in this fast paced world and life, and we can easily have tunnel vision on our goals and all the things we desire. When you throw a dog (or even a child) into the mix you HAVE to widen your view to take into account their needs - daily walks, feeding, bathing, training, shopping for their food and taking some time to play.
For me, I’ve had to re-prioritise the things in my day to ensure Lawrence is taken care of, which has also helped me stop doing things that don’t serve me or my soul and focus on what’s really important in my life.
Don’t take life too seriously – have some fun
Sure, there’s times in your day (and week) when you need to focus and do the work but we have to balance this out with some fun. Like dogs, our attention span can only last so long and then we find/make distractions in order to have variety. This can play out in resourceful and unresourceful ways such as
after hours hobby
new education course
finding a new job
spending hours on social media
So schedule some fun time (whatever that is for you) and enjoy feeling like a child again.
Everyone deserves an opportunity, regardless of their history
Often humans pass judgement on others because of what they’ve ‘heard’ about someone’s past. I know that there was once a time in my life where I thought someone who had challenges with mental health or depression could only be labelled as ‘nutter’, ‘homeless’, ‘street bum’, ‘unemployed’, ‘no good’. Although now I’ve experienced depression and mental health challenges and I don’t think I'm any of those things. I have a friend (or two actually) who is a reformed ice addict. They weren’t a bad person before and they’re not a bad person now, they just had a challenge in between that was difficult for them to manage.
The same can happen with some dogs. In some circumstances they might display a particular behaviour or trait, but they can shine brightly with the right support and love and being offered an opportunity to do things differently.
Love is all you need
Unlike some humans, dogs have this wonderful ability to forgive and forget quickly. As the ‘master’ I need to set boundaries so that we both know what is acceptable and not, such as who sits on the couch and who sits on the floor. And even after needing to enforce the rules, somehow a dog will always come back to you with a wag of a tail, a loving lick and the soft resting of their body on yours to let you know they’re your number 1 fan. They love unconditionally, no matter what you look like, what you smell like, who you’re friends with or what your qualifications are.
I think as humans we can all learn a thing or two from dogs, especially ones who haven’t had a great start in life.
I’ve heard people talk about how life changes when you have a baby and your soul focus is the survival of them – I feel like I’m experiencing that with Lawrence as he fills my heart with love, joy and adventure each day.
Lawrence has completely changed my life since I met him and I have everything crossed that he passes his ‘foster’ period with us and becomes a permanent member of our family.
**Lawrence passed his foster period and has been with us ever since keeping us laughing and loving.