Lessons from the Dog - Forgive

The mind is an interesting thing. My husband can remember details of Penn State games that happened over 10 years ago, while I can barely remember the name of the star running back on last year’s team. Yet, I can remember the time the fight we had when I left the house in tears vowing to never come home again. I may not remember what the fight was about, but I do remember all the details of what happened after I walked out that door. My husband has no recollection. 

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You hear stories and meet dogs all the time that have suffered abuse at the hands of an aggressive human or even an attack by another dog. Heck, Izzy was the victim of attacks by a dog we fostered. At first, fear and distrust sets in. The dogs are wary of others who remind them of the perpetrator. Then, over time, though not in all cases, many of these dogs are able to forgive and learn to trust again. 

I was concerned about Izzy a few years ago wondering if her experiences had scarred her for life. Initially, any time a dog approached her from behind, she’d spin around so as to not be so vulnerable. But over time she’s gotten over it and no longer snaps when a dog sniffs her behind or shows any fear toward other dogs. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of yelling at my dogs not because of something they did, but because I took my frustration out on them. It’s not their fault that Comcast over charged me, then disconnected my call after 30 minutes after being transferred to another department because the first person couldn’t help me. And now I’m late for a client meeting. So, no, this is not a good time to ask to go for a walk.  I come home feeling guilty, but am greeted by wiggly, squealy fluff balls as though it’s been weeks since we’ve seen each other. And I realize as I show them the bag of treats I picked up on my way home, they had already forgiven me. I still say I’m sorry as I hand out tasty snacks. 

It’s one of the best traits of our canine friends – the ability to forgive. A dogs’ cerebral cortex is not as developed the way our brains are. So It’s not that they can’t remember, it’s that they don’t hold on to these experiences the way we do. They just simply move on. 

And that is great advice for all of us. So, the next time you share a story of how you almost got ripped off because the waitress overcharged your drink order, remember this. Or the time someone cut in front of you while in line at the convenience store, do what your dog would do, don't hang on to what happened and let it ruin the rest of your day.

As Taylor Swift sings in her hit song..."Shake, shake, shake it off!"

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Lessons from the dog - Forgive