Can you believe it’s been over a year since we brought Stella home? Our skinny 8-pound nutjob has grown into a skinny 38-pound nutjob, and if I said I loved every minute of the past year… it would be a lie. That being said, between house training, cat poop eating (can’t make that up), long walks, scary trips to the emergency vet, hugs and kisses, and lots of goofiness, I’ve learned so much more from Stella than I could ever hope to teach her. Here are five lessons that stand out to me:
One: Get outside in the morning. I used to lay in bed until the last possible minute- counting backwards from when I had to be at work and figuring out how many times I could hit the snooze button. Now, I’m not saying that never, ever happens anymore- but more often than not, I’m up and moving with Stella as she snorts like a pig every time she gets excited (yup). Every single morning we do the exact same thing (I let her out of the crate, she sprints downstairs, I let her outside, put my shoes on, and get her harness out), and every single morning, she acts like a little kid on Christmas morning. The combination of that energy and the fresh air and sunlight wakes me up better than coffee.
Two: Play. On Friday evening, it was just me and Stells. Justin was gone for a TDY. I was a little bit down- I’m not used to being by myself at night. Instead of sitting down and watching TV, I cranked up the music and danced around my house. Stella looked at me like I had lost my mind, and then joined in, chasing me, jumping and spinning in circles. Within 5 minutes, my mood had completely changed.
Three: If you attack things head on, they aren’t so scary. This picture so perfectly sums up Stella’s personality. One of her favorite things to do at the dog park is get a running start and run directly into large dogs- great danes, dobermans, German shepherds like her cousin Silas- until they finally agree to chase her back. No fear!
Four: When someone is having a hard time, just sit with them. Time for a not-so-funny one. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile or if you know me in real life, you know that I suffer from the occasional panic attack. The last time this happened was a few months ago. Justin asked me what he could do to help, and I told him I just wanted Stella. She licked my face and then just sat with me. I’ll never understand how dogs know what to do when someone is sad, but I’m so thankful for their intuition. This has helped me to realize that sometimes the best thing you can do for someone in pain is to simply sit and feel their pain with them, rather than rushing to find a solution to ease the discomfort.
Five: Be happy anyway. Stella has not had what most people would call an easy beginning. We were told she was 11 weeks old when we got her, but we’re pretty sure she was much younger. She has a birth defect in which she only has about 50% of her bottom jaw, and what she has is slanted at a diagonal (if you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to- it’s so goofy looking). Her mouth makes it difficult for her to pant/ cool herself, and when she gets out of breath she often struggles to breathe. When we rescued her, we learned that there had been talk of using her as a bait dog… and yet, she’s as happy as anything. I look at her and think about how we all have a choice every day- to focus on the bad, or to focus on the good. She reminds me to focus on the good.