Fun fact: Scarlet’s tail has changed color since we’ve gotten her. Different colored hairs appeared, making her tail seem darker. It’s adorable. And I’m not biased.
Also, she’s great at napping.
Owning a dog is a humanizing experience.
Sometimes taking care of myself is enough of a job. But to be responsible for a living creature, too? It’s definitely an experience. And how we treat our dogs says a lot about who we are as a person. (I just hope it says I’m a good person.)
Seven months of having Scarlet has driven home the lesson that dogs are as varied as humans. Each dog has its own personality, needs, and quirks. Every day, I do my best to learn Scarlet. It’s taught me a lot about myself, too.
Good thing she knows herself pretty well. Last week, after two short walks for the day, she nosed me—her way of letting me know she needed something. I cycled through my usual questions.
- Do you want to go outside?
- Are you hungry?
- Do you want to go for a walk?
- Do you want to go to the dog park?
I thought she’d want yet another walk, but it turned out she wanted the dog park. Because she’s a social dog. Those are her needs.
Dog parks are wonderful.
There’s something about being able to run off-leash that she truly loves. Little makes me happier than seeing this smiling face running toward me.
Dog parks have taught me that not all mental stimulation for dogs is equal. Running in the backyard isn’t as fulfilling as going for a walk, and going for a walk isn’t as fulfilling as going on an adventure to the dog park. I’ve made it my mission to ensure she gets variety and adventure, because that’s the key to a happy dog.
Listening is your greatest superpower.
In a society where we’re all shouting our opinions, demanding to be heard, few truly listen. Listening isn’t always about hearing and understanding spoken words, either. It’s watching for signs and tells and body language.
It’s putting aside what you want and getting outside your own head to pay attention to someone else, even if that someone else is your dog. Scarlet could have entire conversations with her eyes, as long as you’re listening.