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Four Things My Dog has Taught Me

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Our little Bichon Frise, Rhylan Cooper Wazowski Sasala (yes, we named him after Mike Wazowki from Pixar’s Monsters Inc.) just turned 1-year old a few weeks ago!  It feels like just yesterday we picked up Rhylan and drove him home. We didn’t really know what to expect, but were really excited to have a puppy in our house!

This past week, Jenna and I have been reflecting on the many benefits of having a dog in our family. We feel grateful for the lessons, benefits, and love it has provided us. If you’ve ever had a dog, you can relate!

Today, I want to share with you four things having a dog has taught us.

Patience is everything

“What did I just step in, and why is it wet?” Probably because it’s the dog’s urine. Or his most recent, badly-placed bowel movement!

It goes without saying that having a dog has taught us patience. From cleaning up accidents to taking walks at 3:00 in the morning, dogs test patience unlike any other animal! Not only has it taught us patience with our dog, but it’s grown our patience for each other as well. It may sound weird to say it, but having a dog has really improved our marriage!

Communication

And now we arrive at our most useful lesson from owning a dog: communication! From questions like, “Who’s going to take Rhylan for a walk?” to “Where can we take Rhylan while we are at that dinner party?”, owning a dog has forced us to find better ways to communicate. It’s so weird to think that a dog has improved our communication skills as a couple, but it really has. I asked Jenna how she feels owning Rhylan has improved communication between us, and she said, “Being forced to communicate about silly things like, who’s taking the dog for a walk or when was Rhylan last fed, makes communicating about other small things in life more significant."

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Just do it

I can’t tell you how many times I have been woken in the early hours of the morning by the sound of my dog scratching or crying. For a little guy like Rhylan, this only means one thing: potty. Taking a dog out to go potty in the dead of winter at 2:00 am is an unwelcome task to many. But for me, it’s taught me a concept that Nike has been speaking of for years: just do it.

This lesson has changed how I work, and how I serve my wife and those around me. Instead of giving in to my first instinct (complaining), I’ve learned to just do it and not look back. Just take the trash out. Just sit and listen to your wife. Just pray with your wife. Without him even knowing it, my dog has taught me an incredible lesson that has changed the way I think of and serve others.

 Rhylan and Jenna

Rhylan and Jenna

Family is everything

It’s been a hard day, and Jenna and I are both exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally. These are the times where it’s easy for us to both overact, take our exhaustion out on each other, or simply ignore one another. Fortunately for dogs, this isn’t how they let things happen. On our hardest days, when we’re in tears or in a frustrating situation, Rhylan has a way of reminding us that family is everything. How? By licking our feet when we’re crying, or trying to jump onto our lap to comfort us. Our dog has shown us to not sweat the small stuff, focus on what matters most, and remember that family is everything.

There’s a reason God created a creature as amazing as the dog. Their constant unconditional love and joy for the small things gives us a better perspective on life and the people we share it with.

Hopefully your animals have taught you something about yourself or stretched you to become a better person, spouse, parent, friend, and leader. I know that my puppy has done that for me!