I think humans can learn a lot from the habits of both working dogs and pets.
1) Sleep More. I do not sleep the 18-20 hours a day that most dogs sleep, but I am good at sleeping while Kristin is working. Sleep is when I recover from all the hard work I do and it lets me keep doing the things I love.
2) Snort and Sneeze. This translates to Lab Laughter (or human laughter and smiles). Smiling and laughing makes you feel good. It actually reduces pain, increases immune response, decreases stress, and makes it more likely that both dogs and people will greet you.
3) Eat Healthy Foods. My fur is very soft and fluffy eating foods that are RAW and not processed. Kristin has had countless rewards from eating a plant-based diet and listening to her body.
4) Serve and Love. Each encounter, day, and project is an opportunity to continue serving a great mission in life and spreading love. My purpose in life is to be a guide dog for Kristin and a therapy dog for thousands of others. We all have a purpose. Wiggle your bum every time you have an opportunity to serve your purpose.
5) Be Present. When you don’t live in the moment you miss some of the best things that are right under your noses! When you focus on the essentials in life like food, sleep, and love, you remember to stop and enjoy the sunset or the smell of flowers. We try to dance, do yoga and meditate daily to help us stay present.
6) Keep Your Nose to the Ground. We need intelligent, outspoken critics who can analyze the problems we are facing and not just cheer everyone on. Positive but critical dialogue that helps us come up with solutions is imperative. People like to hear happy stories and see tails wag. But, a focused serious working dog is important too. It is hard work to think deeply and be critical of our laws and culture, but a responsibility.
7) Talk to Me (or your dog or the Zoe In your life). Kristin was on the elevator going to an important meeting and she was talking to me the whole time. Gab gab gabbing. Telling me that she was prepared, strong, and confident and doing super woman poses too. I wagged my tail in agreement. Her mind was clear when we got there and it was an excellent meeting all around. The next day we had another important meeting, and we were in three elevators on the way to the meeting. I really wanted her to have the chance to talk to me before that meeting, because I knew that she needed my affirmation. Next time you hear your fears, worries, judgements (even about traffic or transportation causing stress) please talk to the Zoe in your life—maybe your dog, spouse, or sibling. I am a great listener. It’s hard to look at me and be fearful or judge. You will soon replace these words with words of love and affirmation.
8.) Do more things, buy less stuff. Actions are our only possessions. Memories stay with us forever. I had 4 bags of toys that I rotated into my large basket next to my crate and then there was a flood in our apartment and they were gone! I was surprised that I was not upset. I would have preferred to barter them all for a first class ticket (or any ticket) to visit and vacation with friends or family, but they are just stuffies and I can hold the memories I had with them forever. Looking forward to making more memories in new countries, new states, going to advocacy events, dancing at concerts, and going to bike races this year!
9) Cultivate ways to say thank you. Both to yourself and your pack. You can’t be stressed and grateful at the same time. We are constantly lifted up by others and are able to look past the challenging experiences or people that make life hard sometimes. With the help of friends in the pack we got to travel all over the US this year chasing dreams. We have so many more memories and friends to make our lives fulfilling. We don’t have an adequate way to thank everyone, so I get gratitude walks in honor of these gifts and we will send a text or note if we can.
10) Life is a Gift. A broken heart might lead to “fixed” vision, but it’s hard to take advantage of that without being excited every morning about a new day. You may not jump out of bed and spin like me, but find a way/wag to acknowledge the gift!
Live like Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog Labrador Retriever!
Thanks for being part of #ZoesPack and helping us thrive for the past 6 years! We look forward to what 2020 has in store for us.