This is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., when we gather together to honor all of those who have died in service to the country. It’s a time to remember the fallen and to show our gratitude for what they have sacrificed so that we can continue to enjoy freedom.

It’s important to show gratitude to others because it’s one of those things that keeps our human packs working smoothly, but I know that sometimes people can feel embarrassed, either by being overly grateful or by receiving too much thanks from others. It seems odd that the simple act of saying “thank you” can be socially awkward for us, especially when we have such good examples of how to do it right in front of us.

Of course, I’m talking about our dogs. They show us constant gratitude every single day and they aren’t embarrassed to do it. I’m not referring to the dog that bounces up and down or runs in circles when the humans come home — that’s excitement, not gratitude. Rather, it’s the calm, balanced dog that is happy to sit by our side, go on a walk with us, or just be in the same room.

Our dogs express their gratitude to us whenever they look into our eyes and take comfort in our calm, assertive leadership. They don’t say it in words, but they express it with their energy, a wag of the tail, and maybe a smile: “I’m thankful that you’re here, and happy to just be in this moment with you.” And if you ever want to see true gratitude from a dog, rescue one from a shelter.

What dogs can teach us is that it’s not necessary to say “thank you” to live a grateful life. We can express our gratitude through our attitude — how we approach and treat others. We can learn a lot from calm, happy-go-lucky dogs.

Remember: dogs cannot lie. Whatever they are feeling in the moment is instantly expressed through their body language and energy. Most humans do the same thing unconsciously, so you can just tell when somebody is in a bad mood. But, unlike dogs, we can be aware of our energy and how it affects our attitude, and we can do something about it.

Start by appreciating your own dog’s gratitude to you, and return the favor by giving them the leadership that they want and need. Don’t be surprised if really paying attention to your dog’s expressions of thanks helps you to feel grateful for all the good things in your life and enjoy them in the moment.

We don’t need parades and celebrations to express our gratitude, although they are nice symbols of the sentiment. All we need to do is look at how our dogs approach the world and how they thank us constantly for everything we do for them.

Stay calm, and thank you for being a fan!

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