5 life lessons from my puppy

May 6th, 2020

Just like using empathy to see from the other person's perspective, so too can you try and understand how a dog is thinking. I guarantee that anything 'wrong' are not the dog's doing, but the trainer. Like all first time dog owners, you will learn plenty of lessons along the way. And the benefits of owning a dog will always outweigh the perceived negatives.

Fionn (Fyu-in) has been the greatest joy. In the current COVID climate, Fionn has been our beacon of light. Our lives may not be normal, but his is. Fionn is a dog (a puppy) and is unaware of COVID, global pandemics or lockdowns. He doesn't know a lot really, but he loves walks, being played with and feeling safe. And food. He loves food the most.

So we focus on keeping his life normal because at the end of all this Fionn will hopefully have at least a decade on this planet and his training regime needs to continue. If not we will spend that decade with an awful dog, and our personal lives will be a misery. I'm not having that.

Fionn has taught me so many lessons in 5 months of puppy ownership, not only on puppy training but how I should view my own life. Finding it hard to articulate these key lessons, I've decided to approach them from the perspective of Fionn alongside my take on the human lesson. To keep this blog more engaging along the way, I'll throw in some cute pictures of Fionn. Rest assured. Here is one to get you started.

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1. I learn quickly, but also unlearn quick, human

Is this right? Can I get a treat now? I'm happy to do this thing you call "sit", but can you let me know that I've done it so I can release myself. Wait, now you want me to "lie down"? Hmmm, not sure what you are asking here. I feel like you said before, but honestly, I have no clue what it means. You haven't said it for a few days. Can I have a treat now?

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Human Summary: It doesn't take too long to create a habit, but without repetition and practise, a habit can be undone in a matter of days. Practise every day, even for a minute. If you don't, habits become undone quickly.

2. I don't understand what I've done wrong, human

Why do you seem annoyed? I can hear it in your tone. Was I not meant to take your glasses and run away? What are they even for? Fine, I'll just knock the bin over instead. That seems better. Please don't be annoyed at me. I want to make you happy, but I don't know what is right and wrong.

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Human Summary: Don't assume someone is wrong, incorrect, or an idiot. They maybe haven't been told before, been introduced to a different perspective or fully understand the problem at hand. Be patient, spend the time to understand their point of view, and you can work on the problem together.

3. Be in the moment, human

Put that 'phone' thing away. Every time you look at that thing, you are not with me at this moment in time. Why are you looking at a screen? I'm looking right at you. You are not enjoying the calmness outdoors with me or looking ahead at something exciting. Is there something more important on that thing?

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Human Summary: Put your phone away. Be in the moment. If you are taking a walk with your dog, enjoy the walk and the outdoors, not your screen. Appreciate your surroundings and the things around you, not what is happening to someone else, somewhere else. Nothing is more pressing or relevant that the moment you are in right now. Be there with your dog. They certainly want you there with them.

3. Plan your day, human

Hide those distractions, human. They are just so tempting. I want them all. Trust me, if I can get them, I'll get them. It is much easier for me if I can't see them though. I'll probably just concentrate on my toys, taking a nap or just being a good dog. But if I see those Airpods on top of the drawer, just know that I'll take them and you will spend a good few minutes trying to get them back.

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Human Summary: Out of sight, out of mind. If you don't get distracted by it, your puppy sure will. Remove it from arms reach, and you will be less tempted to be distracted by it. Put productive items closer, and less productive ones further away, in a drawer or another room. Fight for your attention, as your puppy would fight for Airpods. The fewer distractions and stuff hanging around, the more you can focus.

4. Look how big I am now, human

Remember how tiny I was 5 months ago? Remember when it was Christmas 5 months ago? Look at me now. I can jump on things, steal toilet paper (love by the way). I'm pretty big now, and will never be that small again.

Human Summary: Time goes quick. You might want it to go quicker. You might want to get to the destination quicker, but you should enjoy the moment. Time goes so quick. Live is so short. Don't waste it. Spend time with family, friends and your dog.

5. I love you

Have I told you are my favourite person? I have? Well, let me tell you again now. I'll probably remind you in 3 minutes how much I love you too. Thanks for keeping me safe and being nice to me. Also, keep giving me tasty treats and spending fun time with me on walks. I feel very special. I will love you for my entire life.

Human Summary: Be grateful for the people you have in your life. Your dog sure is. Express your gratitude, tell you're significant other you love them every day and be kind. Life is way too short. It is even shorter for a dog. If you can express love even 1/10th as much as your dog does, you are on to a great thing.

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