Life Lessons from the neighbor’s dog

My neighbor got a dog a number of months ago. It was a good-sized animal for the city. She said her kids wanted it.

“Who is going to walk the dog?” she asked her children.

They looked puzzled, as if that were a ridiculous question.

“The dog walker,” they told her.

If you have a dog in Manhattan you hire someone to walk the animal in the middle of the day. It’s a big expense and that person becomes part of your circle of life in a way that’s either enriching or annoying.

When I saw my neighbor a month after she got the dog she looked distressed, strung out. She was pushing a baby carriage with one hand and desperately being pulled along by a large dog on a leash.

The dog was barking randomly as if trying to defend the entire island.

Recently I ran into her again and asked how things were going.

“Much better,” she said.

“What’s changed?” I asked.

“No more barking,” she said.

“How did you manage that?”

“The bark collar,” she said.

My neighbor said she didn’t blame the dog. “He thinks he’s doing his job,” she said. But she couldn’t handle it on top of the kids, shopping, laundry, and other modern stresses, especially in a small apartment.

I’m sure PETA wouldn’t approve, but she found the small electric shock delivered by the collar a lifesaver. It’s the urban version of Invisible Fence, the wire suburbanites use to surround their property so dogs don’t stray.

My neighbor said the experience underscored the need to make changes and not passively accept the cards she was dealt.

She said the dog taught her other life lessons:

  • Her dog chases pigeons with no hope of catching them. (Life lesson: Don’t give up no matter how futile your endeavors appear.)
  • The dog runs when you approach him, but approaches if you stand still. (Life lesson: Be patient and things will come to you.)
  • He barks when she is far away, but wags his tail as soon as he recognizes her. (Life lesson: Maybe we wouldn’t bark at people if we were closer.)
  • He is always ecstatic to see her, even if she has locked him in the apartment all day. (Life lesson: Don’t hold grudges.)
  • The dog is happy when he gets up, chases a ball and gets fed the same food every day. (Life lesson: Happiness depends more on your attitude than your situation.)
  • When the dog wants to fetch he will bring her a toy until she agrees to play ball. (Life lesson: Don’t settle until you get what you want.)
  • Small treats make the dog incredibly happy. (Life lesson: even modest gifts can bring people great joy.)
  • People laugh at her dog because it’s got huge ears, but he doesn’t know that so it doesn’t bother him. (Life lesson: Be yourself. Don’t worry what people think.)

**Published by Sep 14, 2015**