Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Dog Day Morning

This is Loki, our 7-year old lab. Most every one of his days starts the same and as I watched him this morning, I became more convinced he is the smart one in the family. I think we can learn many things from the animals in our lives if we only take the time to listen. Recently, I've been on a re-training regime, courtesy of Loki. He's teaching me to trust that he will listen when I call him to return to my side while off-leash walking. While conventional wisdom might say he is being trained since we are now living in the city and he no longer has his giant fenced in yard, I'm wise enough to say it is really me that needed the retraining. He is a patient teacher and reminds me to stay present when we're out walking together. If I pay attention to what is going on around us during our walk (and ignore what every silly thoughts are running through my head), he listens perfectly. When I get lost replaying previous conversations, rehearsing new ones or am plotting and mulling the to-do list, he is more likely to wander away. Lost in my head and a lost dog? Irony or truth?

As for the mornings, I think Loki sets a great example for exactly what humans should do to start the day. This is what Loki recommends:
  1. Don't get up until you're ready. Granted, Loki doesn't have a job he must rush off to, but I've noticed if his humans are forced to get up early he keeps sleeping. He might rouse himself enough to leave the dog bed for the warm spot in the human bed but he'll quite happily snooze along until asked to get up, or until the time seems right. 
  2. Stretch. Yawn. Repeat. Loki's first order of business when finally rising is to do a lovely looking downward dog. Then he gives a big yawn, as if to greet the day. Then he does another downward dog stretch, butt high in the air. 
  3. Drink. Next a few slurps of water. He quenches any nightly thirst by enjoying his morning water. 
  4. Shake. Yes, I've tried and I think it is impossible for humans to shake like dogs. You know the shake I'm talking about - from the tip of the nose in a wave to the tip of the tail. It looks like a great way to wake the body up, but I can't quite figure out how to do it (advice welcome!).
  5. Walk. Next on Loki's agenda is a morning walk. In his previous house with a fenced in yard, he would go out and spend 10 or 15 minutes walking, sniffing and doing his business. In our new city life, it is a family affair. We leash up and head into the park for a morning walk where we all walk and sniff the morning air (he is still the only one doing his business outdoors). The morning walk truly sets the stage for the rest of our day. 
  6. Breakfast. After the walk, breakfast is served. A wholesome combination of holistic dog food with a bit of pumpkin mixed in for extra vitamins.
The next step in Loki's day is a morning nap and while us humans might enjoy a morning nap, we really must get on with making the world a better place. Nonetheless, following Loki's six steps for a successful morning will help you start each day more centered, balanced and ready to face the day. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Loki is almost always at my side so I'll consult him for the answers you seek. 

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