I am a dog person. Dogs epitomize unconditional love, and I consider them my furry children.
We have owned Yellow Labs for the past dozen years. We welcomed three litters of Lab puppies, and maintained three Labs of our own. We know the breed.
Labs are people pleasers. That’s why they are easy to train. One cross look and a Lab will stop bad behavior and immediately try to earn back favor.
About four years ago, we adopted a Basset Hound and quickly discovered they are an entirely different breed ¾ literally. Bassets adore attention, they just don’t discriminate between positive and negative. A cross look carries no weight. And they are very stubborn. However, those droopy eyes and long, floppy ears endear them to us, no matter the turmoil.
At first I thought the Basset needed some additional exercise to wear out his puppy energy. While this helped the hyper-activity at home, the daily walk was a constant struggle. I wanted him to heel; I wanted him to obey; I wanted to walk him – not vice versa.
After a month of trying to train him, I was ready to quit. Then I had an idea.
What if during our walk, I allowed the Basset to lead. What if I allowed him to follow his nose, stop and sniff as long as he likes, and lead me, rather than me pulling him along.
In other words…what if I allowed the Basset to be himself?
While some avid dog trainers might disagree with this method, after all, humans are supposed to be the pack leader in the household, I was desperate.
I wanted joy with my dog, not constant battles. I wanted a happy pooch, not an anxious one. I wanted a peaceful home.
So I did it. For the past two years the Basset and I go for a daily walk. He is beside himself when he sees the leash, whining with delight and running around in circles with sheer joy.
He still lurches out of the garage, racing to the nearest fire hydrant, but we soon settle into a nice pace: walking a few steps then stopping to sniff and mark territory. This continues for about thirty to forty-five minutes, depending on the direction he takes.
At this point he has about five regular routes, and he always knows where to turn to lead us back home.
We typically walk in the morning, and he lets me know if we’re running late. But once the walk is complete, he is content for the rest of the day.
Maybe I can learn a lesson from the Basset.
What if I allow myself to be Molly for thirty minutes a day?
What if I do what I want to do, what I’m meant to do, without fear of others’ judgment or slavery to the task list. What if I am simply me?
As women we wear many hats. We are wife, mother, teacher, chauffeur, cook, volunteer, friend, employee, manager. The list goes on and on.
And each role comes with its own list of responsibilities and expectations. It is easy to become the role and lose sight of the individual.
We are called to serve, and God has gifted us with talents, personalities, and passions to fulfill those roles in life.
But He has also called us to be ourselves. To be still and spend time with Him. To become the best “me” we can be.
And it is hard to accomplish that goal when so many other obligations vie for our attention. But what if we postpone those duties for just a few minutes a day and simply be ourselves?
For me, this might include a leisurely walk with my camera, taking a few photos along the way. Or sitting with a cup of tea and reading a good book. Or journaling my inner thoughts.
By acknowledging me, I acknowledge the Lord.
And just as the Basset returns from his walk, content to face the rest of the day, so too am I.
My soul is settled, my mind is at peace, and I am energized to serve others.
© Molly Totoro – for GateWay of Hope
Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.