The Good Life
with a Southern Drawl

20 Life Lessons I Learned From ‘Just A Dog’

By Amy Bailey — August 28, 2014

For 15 years of my life I was blessed with the love of a special dog, my Doolittle, a Maltese from Alabama. He was a beloved companion, a hiking enthusiast (believe it or not he loved to hike and would set out ahead of us to lead us down a trail), a burier of milk bones under rugs, a beggar of treats, a snuggler in warm clothes fresh from the dryer as well as pillows and soft sheets on the bed (sometimes so relaxed he would lay flat on his back feet in the air), a salty dog at the beach, an attacker of stuffed animals, an excitable runner who would take off as fast as he could running circles through the house, a fanatic of chicken and bacon, a howler at trains, a bathtub guardian, a lover of the wind in his hair especially on a boat, a player of hide and seek, a bully to larger dogs, a traveler to New York, the Hamptons, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida, the Ring Dog in our wedding, my driving companion, my protector, my sidekick, my shadow, and a piece of my heart. Pets are beautiful without vanity, friends without expectations, confidants without judgement, they are love without all the vices of us humans. Here are 20 life lessons I learned from my 6 lb white ball of cotton:

1. Greet People With Enthusiasm – When you see the people you love you should wag your tail, jump up, and bark with joy. It is a real treat to have someone greet you with pure love.
2. Be Loyal A Good Man Is Hard To Find – When we find good people we should keep them in our lives and treat them with gratitude.
3. Let The Wind Blow Through Your Hair – There is no feeling quite so freeing like the simplicity of having the wind blow through your hair, especially on a boat.
4. Nap – Good sleep is crucial to a long, healthy life.
5. Every Ride Should Be A Joy Ride – When you have the opportunity to go on a ride with the one you love, make sure you look out the window and enjoy every second. Doolittle used to ride in my lap with his paws perched on the window looking out to see every little thing, he would even do this on planes.
6. Go Dog Go – Doolittle loved to travel and was adaptable no matter where he went. He loved to just go, it didn’t matter where he just wanted to go where I was going. Even when he couldn’t go he would jump on top of my suitcase he wanted to go so badly.
7. Snuggle – There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as a day of snuggling with the one you love.
8. Protect The Pack – Dog’s have the natural instinct of wolves and just like them we should protect our pack aka family.
9. Sometimes You Just Have To Howl And Let Out The Blues – One of the funniest memories of my dog was when we lived close to a train and would find him howling at the train, this tiny little white fluffy dog howling like a wolf. We joked that he must be singing Johnny Cash “I here that train a coming…”
10. It’s Not The Size Of The Dog In The Fight, It’s The Size Of The Fight In The Dog – At 6 lbs Doolittle was not afraid of any other dog and frequently would scare bigger dogs.
11. Eat Bacon – Bacon is worth jumping up on your hind legs and wagging your whole body over.
12. Warm Sheets And Soft Pillows Should Be Fluffed And Rolled Around In – What a delight to the senses when you take sheets out of the dryer and get to cuddle on a freshly made bed with soft pillows. Doolittle would dig and roll all over a freshly made bed like it was his version of Disneyland.
13. Hike Often – The sensory experience of a hike is one to take advantage of whenever you have the chance. To be that close to God and nature is a gift. Doolittle loved not just walks, but hikes. This prissy little dog would take off in front of us and lead us up and down rocky trails. He loved to hike.
14. Snowmen And Stuffed Animals Should Not Be Trusted – Any object that impersonates a human or animal should be barked at ferociously.
15. Don’t Eat Canned Food – One time we gave Doolittle canned food, when we came home the can was shoved in a corner with the mat it was previously sitting on now on top of the can covering it up. The food had not been touched, even the dog knew not to eat over processed food.
16. Smell Will Out Last All Other Senses – Even though your sight and hearing may be lost, you can still smell a good meal from the other room.
17. A Little Dog Can Have The Biggest Heart Of Anyone You Know – 2 and a half years ago when Doolittle became sick the vet told us that Doolittle was suffering from an enlarged heart – as my husband said, “Of he is.” It only seemed fitting that a dog who gave so much love would be ailing from a big heart.
18. Dogs Should Not Wear Clothes Or Bows – Although adorable and although photo worthy, dogs are not dolls and should not be dressed up everyday. Doolittle would fight until his ‘top knot’ was out and even if it was cold could not stand to wear a sweater.
19. Be A Friend Without Expectations – True friends with pure hearts don’t expect anything in return. They love you, period. Doolittle couldn’t contain his joy of just being with me, often giving me a kiss after being scolded. Holding grudges and judging people is bad for the soul.
20. Children Just Like Dogs Are Pure Love – Pure love and pure joy is found in the hearts of children and dogs. Doolittle would greet children just like he would the people he loved with his tail wagging intensely. Picking up my little one from school, children would gather around Doolittle just to pet him and love on him.