My dog, her toys, and mindful lessons

A while back I wrote about what my dog teaches me about mindfulness and she is still a very good teacher. She still takes her time to sniff every leaf and go around every tree to sniff even if we walk the same path three times a day! She definitely understands what it means to go about life with a beginner’s mind – every day, every walk, is a new experience.

My dog has a lot of toys (a basket that’s overflowing – lucky girl!) and I can’t help but buy her more new toys every so often. Recently, I brought home a new toy for her and it was the first time I really paid attention to what she does when she receives something new. Of course, the first thing she does is get excited – she loves getting new stuff! Then she heads to the rug in the living room to play with the new toy. What I noticed is that she didn’t play with any other toys that day. The next morning when she got up, she went right for the new toy (I thought I read somewhere that dogs forget because they don’t have good short term memory? clearly not true).

You might be thinking “well, obviously if she gets something new she will focus on it because she is excited.” While that’s true, I also see another side to this – she pays full attention to what is new. She gets to really know the toy (while destroying it from excessive play), and she is not easily distracted. She pays attention, in the moment, without being bothered by anything or any one else. Sounds like mindfulness to me!

I’ve been thinking about ways I can be more mindful in my life. I have been easily distracted and not as focused as I would like and I know this is a phase. However, even during this phase I would like to do more than just “name it” when I feel annoyed or shame or guilt. I would like to sit with those emotions for a bit longer and really get to know what is happening. Just like my dog with a new toy, I hope I can embrace each moment, during the good and the challenging times, like a new toy (minus the all day obsession…I’m just asking for a few minutes longer to be with what’s happening, not to hold on to it all day).

What about you? what have you learned from the behaviors of your pets or others around you?


“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it” [Thich Nhat Hanh]

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