Lena is our rescue lab mix of indeterminate age.
She has been part of our family for three years.
I'd like to share six life lessons we've learned from Lena.
1. Unconditional positive regard.
She accepts you as you are.
She expects the best from you. She wants to be with you.
She never worries what you might think of her.
It would never cross her mind that you might not adore her right back.
If you were to ever be harsh with her, however, she would remember and then studiously avoid you. Your loss.
2. Live in the present.
She isn't ruminating on the past or worried for the future.
3. Savor life's pleasures.
She enjoys her food. She luxuriates in the sun.
She is always up for an adventure or invitation to go for a ride in the car, canoe, or boat.
She invites and re-invites belly rubs, ear scratches, and cuddles on the couch.
She prances with joy at the sight of a leash, sneakers being donned or her life jacket.
4. Know who you are- your strengths and growing edges.
Although she is a lab mix, she does not swim. Ever.
Hence, the before-mentioned life jacket.
Neither, will she lower herself to chase a tennis ball.
She is, however, a champion chipmunk chaser.
She will not eat vegetables. Or fruit. Peanut butter, meat, and bacon, you bet.
Her superpowers are napping and sustained eye contact.
She is what is called a "Velcro dog", glued to your side.
Get over it. This is who she is. She doesn't apologize.
5. It's OK to be afraid and to ask for what you need.
Fireworks, the vacuum cleaner, sudden squeaky noises, and being alone are not her favorites.
Treats, refuge in a small space or on a lap help.
Collecting all the shoes in the household is also a comfort.
6. You are imperfect and worthy of love.
She sheds- a lot.
She sometimes (ok, often) smells.
She sometimes makes messes on the rug. They smell, too.
She barks fiercely at the doorbell.
Independence is not her strong suit.
As she ages, her vision isn't as keen and our walks are less energetic.
She is loved beyond measure. And so are you.