When in doubt, watch the beagle

Life can seem complicated sometimes. I look at my beagle named Lady, whose biggest concern is whether breakfast and supper will be on time, and who knows without a doubt that we will meet all her needs, and I envy her simple existence.

And then, in one of those duh! moments, I realized I can learn a lot from my beagle. She’s got her priorities straight; she lives for the moment. My mother, who always tells me, “All we have is today,” would agree that Lady just might have things figured out better than some of us humans.

So, I sat down and made a list of the things Lady can teach me. Some of it is even good spiritual advice.

All things come to she who waits. Lady has to eat twice a day, and she relies on me to provide the goodies. She knows I will. She doesn’t panic if I delay a bit, nor does she hold it against me. She simply waits and trusts–and I always come through. I have a feeling God might like it if I treated him the same way.

Don’t worry about tomorrow. Lady hasn’t a clue what worry is. She doesn’t wonder whether her life is going to work out OK. She simply is who she was created to be, one day at a time. In my own life, worry won’t change a thing, except prevent me from enjoying what’s good about today.

Never pass up a walk. Doctors and health experts are always encouraging us to exercise more. Lady needs no encouragement. No matter how many times I grab the leash, she’s ready to go. I tend to face exercise a bit more grudgingly.

Keep moving forward. Lady loves taking a new path, and strikes off with enthusiasm. But, if I try retracing our steps, she slows to a crawl and shoots accusing looks at me. Been there, done that, seems to be her attitude. She’ll accept a circle route that takes us back to the starting point as long as we’re covering new ground in the process. Don’t look back, she seems to say. My life is probably best lived that way, too.

Look for treats along the way. Lady finds munchies in the grass or the undergrowth as we trudge along. It’s a beagle thing. I’m never sure what they are, and I don’t think I want to know. The point is, she’s always on the lookout for that unexpected treat. She always finds them.  I suspect that the same expectant attitude would help me recognize the little gifts God has in store for me each day. I wonder how many I’ve missed.

Relax and take naps. As I write this, Lady is sprawled on the couch, front legs wrapped around her blankie, snoring softly. She paces her day: time to eat, time to play, time for exercise, time to relax. Most Americans try to cram their days full of as much as possible, as if the one with the busiest schedule, wins. Many are sleep-deprived.  Even people on vacation tend to run frenetically from one activity to another. Sometimes it’s just as productive to just sit and watch the clouds float by.

Don’t hold grudges. I’ve had to discipline Lady. A few times, I accused her of something she didn’t do. Whether she’s at fault or not, she doesn’t hold the unpleasant moment against me. She doesn’t even remember it. I’m not nearly as good at forgiving or turning the other cheek.

Welcome strangers, but stay with your pack. Lady meets newcomers with a wagging tail and a friendly glance. She’s tolerant of little kids and other dogs. But she appreciates her own family–me and George–and is always loyal. I hope I can make my family a place where we’re loved unconditionally, where we know we belong.

Be ready for pats. Lady will never turn down togetherness or affection. Some expert once wrote that human beings need at least a dozen hugs a day for good mental and physical health. Lady had that figured out long ago, and seldom stays for long in a room that George and I have vacated. To give and receive tangible signs of affection isn’t just healthy, it’s fun.

After looking at that list, it’s no wonder dog is man’s best friend.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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2 Responses to When in doubt, watch the beagle

  1. gtrgeorge51 says:

    A new take on “Everything I need to know, I learned from my dog”… GREAT article!

  2. Monica says:

    I’m sure, given enough time, I’ll be able to add to that list! Glad you like it. 🙂

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