Happy Easter and Happy Passover! This time of year in the north (and both holidays) is all about new beginnings and renewal. Mother Nature is waking up from winter, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, and Passover is all about the Jewish people making a new start by leaving Egypt in the Exodus. In some cultures, New Year is around this time, as is Earth Day.
Making a new start is often a scary idea to people, but if you pay attention to Nature — specifically to your dogs — you can learn how to do it easily.
If you adopted your dog as an adult, think back to how quickly they adapted to everything changing. If they came from a shelter, they probably had one or more human packs before yours, then had to spend time in a strange and frightening place. And yet, once you brought that dog home, to another new and strange place, it probably wasn’t long at all before she acted like she’d always been there.
Dogs live in the moment, which is why they have this ability. A dog doesn’t obsess about what happened in the past or what’s going to happen in the future. They are only focused on what’s happening right now.
Humans are different. Far too often, we focus on either the past or the future and not the present. When people dwell on the past, they usually wind up living in regret. When they worry about the future, the result is frequently fear or anxiety.
Dogs are fostered and rescued all the time and if they have calm, assertive Pack Leaders they will be balanced no matter what happened to them in the past. The same isn’t necessarily true of foster children, who almost always come from abusive backgrounds. As humans, they have a hard time letting go of the past, so they can have problems learning to trust their new families and even develop physical issues because of psychological ones.
It may seem strange to say, “Don’t worry about the future,” because it’s where every one of us is headed, but the key word here is “worry.” Worrying about what might happen just creates a wall between us and our futures.
For example, say you have to give a big presentation at work in a week; your first one ever. If you spend that week worrying about all the things that can go wrong, by the time that day comes around, you’re going to be a nervous wreck, and probably will fumble and make mistakes. It’s not just a saying; science has shown that fear actually makes things look bigger, so worrying about the future will make any potential problems appear bigger.
But there’s good news. The only way that we can get from the present to the future is to constantly act in the now. In the example above, instead of worrying about how the presentation is going to go, just practice doing it, again and again. You can even use your dogs as an audience — they’re good listeners. Focus on how the presentation is going each time you do it, and by the time the big day arrives, you’ll have left worry and fear behind.
As the old saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The future is our journey. The steps are all of the many “nows” on the way. Stay focused on the steps, and you’ll enjoy the journey to its fullest.
Stay calm, and in the moment!
As the Pack Leader, whether you’re hosting a holiday celebration or leaving for a family function, you’ll likely need to make accommodations for your dog during special holidays. Tell us how you handle these situations.