Sometimes I get angry and lash out, mostly at inanimate objects. Or, I complain, mostly to my wife. But four and ½ years ago I found a dog at the pound, and that changed a lot of things. I still get angry and lash out, mostly at inanimate objects and I still complain, mostly to my wife, but now when I am angry or frustrated my dog, Maggie, comes up to me, tail tucked and nuzzles me gently. Now I have to calm my anger and curb my complaining. It is difficult at times, but it forces me to reconsider.
I have to calm my anger and curb my complaining because Maggie does not understand why I am angry, frustrated, or generally grouchy. She simply knows that I am. She comes up slowly with her head bowed low and her tail tucked and she creeps up to me, nuzzles my arm and begs for petting. Without knowing it she reminds me that I have a great life and that most likely my anger and frustration while perhaps warranted is simply not worth it.
This is a hard lesson and I am a difficult student, but Maggie is a relentlessly patient teacher. I get mad and the tail tucks. I get frustrated and I feel a wet nose against my arm. This relentless reminder is irritating at times, but I cannot afford to let that show lest the cost of doing so is paid. That is, I must look into the dark brown eyes of my teacher, my pet, my companion and without being able to explain that it is not her that I am mad at, reconcile her worries the best I can.
I am reminded by my wife that I could give her the same respect and consideration, but I remind her that she understands my anger and frustration while Maggie does not. I know, and at times am reminded by Maggie, that this argument is not a good one, but like I said: I am a difficult student. I wonder why I do not react to people, my wife, the same way that I react to Maggie, but then the answer comes: people do not react the same way to others as dogs react to people.
There is a lot of honesty in a dog: it cannot lie. It does not have ulterior motives nor does it revel in its own ignorance proudly. I calm my anger and curb my frustration because I do not want my dog to be unhappy, and she shows me love and affection because she does not want me to be unhappy.
Such a simple lesson to be learned from a dog from the pound.