Top Ten Lessons from my Dogs

Sometimes, I think the best lessons are the simplest, and they come from surprising places. You don’t have to go to an Ivy League school to learn them, either.

I’m talking about the things my dogs teach me. You can certainly translate this to any animal, although cats will have their own teaching style, and gerbils are sometimes hard to follow in their logic. As for parrots, I don’t know much about them, except they live a long time, so either you’ve got many years to pay attention, or what they’re teaching is just too big for our complex brains to handle.

So, in no particular order, here are the top ten lessons I’ve learned from my dogs.

1. A vacuum cleaner is a terrible monster. If you don’t run away from it and hide, you might just be forced to use it. Besides, there are plenty of other things in life more important than killing off dust bunnies.

2. If you want to eat something you’re not supposed to, sit and stare at it intently. If you look at it long enough, it will be magnetically pulled to a spot that can be reached with the tip of the tongue. After that, it’s history!

3. Always turn around three times before lying down, especially when you’re really old. This not only ensures that you are safe in all directions and that your blankets are wadded up just right, but it makes you dizzy so you don’t have to expend any extra energy folding yourself up into some neat position like they show in pictures. Nose on paws is overrated; far better to tuck it under your tail.

4. There’s no problem that can’t be solved by digging.

5. The best way to enjoy newly-fallen snow is to bury your nose in it and sniff until it makes you sneeze. This always makes everyone smile, and you can decide which problem you are going to work on with your next digging project.

6. If I pee on it, it’s mine. If you’re the oldest dog in your household, wait for the younger one(s) to finish. They’ll trot off, all satisfied with themselves. Then go pee right on top of their spot. You’ll never lose your place as top dog.

7. Figure out whether your people like to be licked and change your behavior accordingly. If they don’t like too much licking, they’ll probably really go for tail-wagging.

8. If you get scolded, bring your owner a gift. Balls, chew toys, Frisbees and such are usually best. But if you’ve really screwed up, dig for awhile, and you may just be able to find a really great present, like a mole or a rabbit. (Warning: People don’t like perfume, so never, ever, ever bring them a skunk.)

9. Always act interested in what your people are saying. It makes them feel good, and they pay more attention to you.

10. If your people leave you home alone, be very thankful that you have another dog for company. And when they return, make sure you’ve put the cat back down on the floor where it (supposedly) belongs, cleaned up the things you’ve chewed (they tend to blame missing socks on the washing machine!) and always, always, always close the toilet.

(Kiefer received master’s and doctoral degrees in begging, showing his belly, and obedience. He is professor emeritus at The Human Interaction Lab. Ecko just completed his undergraduate studies in obedience and plans to take advanced courses in retrieval. His first book, “Folk Tales I Have Known,” will be published later this year by Doggerel Press.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Dogs, Family and Friends, Food, metaphysics, spirituality

6 Comments on “Top Ten Lessons from my Dogs”

  1. ombudsben Says:

    Very cute – Ernie is a master at number 6. On our walks he watches Edie and waits for her to finish to then go add his 2 cents, or centiliters.

    And the turning around 3 times (for safety) is amusing, especially hwen they get caught i a loop and keep going! (Our dear old Vinnie used to do that.)

    Good write up.

  2. songdeva Says:

    I always wondered why Daisy knew instinctively to run shaking from the vaccuum. They are so *wise*!

  3. maxaside Says:

    awesome, awesome. very relevant and true. Have you tried getting this into some mag??

  4. halfnotes Says:


    Ecko is great at No. 4, especially when flowerbeds are involved.

  5. halfnotes Says:


    “Cause they know housecleaning, after a point, is just a waste of time!

  6. halfnotes Says:


    Thanks very much. I just had fun writing it, and no, haven’t tried getting it into anywhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: