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Life's secrets according to dogs Kate Davies | Sat, Jan 01 2011 12:00 PM

This has not been a wonderful year, either for my dogs or me. Having established those reasons in previous columns, I am now going to throw off the mantle of misery that I have been clutching and take some lessons from my dogs that I hope will stick with me throughout the New Year.

Money isn't everything.

What do dogs care for money? I know from personal experience that they think paper money tastes wonderful when encased in a leather wallet, but as far as actual value goes, it doesn't have meaning for them. They have simpler concerns: whether the ball they are chasing is still going to be there when they catch up with it, whether you are going to feed them when you usually do, and whether the mailman is going to give them the satisfaction of running like the White Rabbit when they bark at the door. Money pays the bills, but it doesn't make life worth living.

Life is what it is.

Dogs live in 'the now'. They are more concerned about what noises are coming from the back yard than what might be happening tomorrow. Dogs have a way of coming back from experiences that would probably put the average human in a mental institution for the rest of their natural lives. They don't dwell on the past and they don't worry about the future. I spend too much of my life worrying about one or the other and tend to forget to smell the roses along the way.

Who cares what people think?

I just watched Boscoe turn upside down and rub himself along the length of the couch and back again, itching himself, whilst making noises that would be better suited to a constipated kitten than an 80 pound dog. He was cycling his legs in the air madly, drooling like a Doomsday Sayer...and was completely oblivious to me. He looked completely crazy... but he was having fun. I worry too much about what other people think of me, and there's no reason to.

If you feel it, let someone know.

Dogs have absolutely no problem letting you know how they feel. Whether you have been gone from the house for five minutes or five hours, their reaction to your return is the same. Mine will bounce crazily all around me - tails wagging, tongues lolling - and I am never in any doubt that they are happy to see me. I need to let people know how I feel about them more often, and lost a little of the reserve that I have built up around me. Dogs aren't concerned about rejection or ridicule - they wear their hearts on their sleeves.

There are so many more lessons that I can learn from my dogs, if I take the time to appreciate what they have to teach: attributes such as loyalty, patience, curiosity, a sense of adventure, and endless and unquestioning love are innate in these wonderful creatures, and when I sit and think about how I lack some of them, it makes me wonder who is the more evolved species!

Take some time and watch your dog, and think about what they have to teach you. Whilst my dogs might not be the well-trained woofers in the world, I am hoping that they might be able to train me to enjoy life a little more!

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