Love the winter

Cooper loves that he is covered in fur. As well as being incredibly stylish, his tri-colour branding is eye-catching and gets the lady dogs’ attention. But in winter he has noticed it has a more practical use. It’s colder at this time of year and it helps keep the chill away more than these poor naked hairless humans.

He has noticed that getting ready for a walk takes even achingly longer. He didn’t think it was possible to do yet more things before a walk began, but now there are hats and scarves and gloves and jumpers and big coats and an ongoing commentary about how cold it is and is Cooper really very sure he has to go out? Err, yes. Obviously.

Love the winterOutside there is an eerie mist in the air. He can’t see everything ahead (though obviously seeing is not the most important sense anyway) and when he inhales, there is a short sharp burst of icy air. It’s surprisingly, that’s for sure. He tastes the winter in his mouth and breathes it back out into the world as he pads on the frosty grass, making it crunch and crackle under his paws.

Now being outside in the winter is great… but… he doesn’t mind if the walks are that tad shorter and that the momentum is that little bit brisker. It’s almost as if it’s worth being outside just so he can come back into the warmth. And the best thing about winter is that actually everyone seems to be a bit too cold, and of course the best way to remedy this situation is to be in a Massive Pile. And that’s what Cooper tries to engineer. Dogs totally get it. But humans… they are all “what are you doing, stop trying to get under my blanket; stop using your big brown eyes and charm to manoeuvre into my lap; don’t put your freezing cold nose on the small of my back…” Blah blah blah. Such a strange species. He’s just trying to help them feel encompassed in warmth and comfort.

What can you learn from your dog?

Hunker down. It’s cold. Now is not the time to begin a running regime, it’s the time to curl up with loved ones and generate warmth together. You want their warmth and they want yours.

Pile on.

Do to for them

Cooper does not like being dressed up as a bee. Now, he’s not sure you quite get it, so he will re-emphasise. HE DOES NOT WANT TO LOOK LIKE A STUPID BEE.

But, wow, his owners just adore to dress him up in a dumb costume each year.

He could put up more resistance – after all he has many dreams about bravely and strongly fending off the house from an influx of evil cats and squirrels – but at the heart of it all, he loves his human cohabiters and it makes them so happy. He stands there, letting them put one leg at a time into fluffy cheap scratchy fabric as they giggle hysterically.

BeegleOf all the costumes, why a dumb bee? Bees are strange colourful flying snacks that aren’t tasty at all and hurt to eat. They seem to be followed by an impromptu trip to the vets, which is fun as he gets to have a fuss made of him (as he should), some tasty treats, but then they seem to pinch his neck for no reason at all. But then there’s another treat, so he guesses it’s okay? Bit weird though.

They finish off their dressing up antics by tying a ridiculously humiliating bow under his neck to keep a bonnet with antennae over his ears. If he could, he would roll his eyes and shake his head, but he is not a petty dog, he lets them get on with it and stands there so they can point their portable rectangles at him and flash light at him. He poses until their laughs subside and then wanders off to the garden to go roll in a seriously large amount of mud.

What can you learn from your dog?

We don’t always totally enjoy every moment with our families and people we are obligated to be with. But if your Aunt gives you a hideous jumper, smile, enthuse and throw it on. It’s an hour of your life, but it’s heartwarming for them to feel appreciated. They love you and they don’t always get that you are not on the same page as them. Sometimes their affections are misguided but, hey, suck it up.

Be loving… and do it for them.

Help your friends feel comfortable

Cooper just adores to meet new dogs on his walks. He bounds over to canine strangers and wants to say hello, engage them and hopefully play. He knows he is a bit bolshy with his intentions and – over time – he has learnt that not everyone appreciates his forceful approach.

Jasper isn’t like feisty Cooper. He likes the quiet. He likes peace. Noise makes him agitated and he gets jumpy if something happens unexpectedly. He sees other dogs proudly wearing their colourful collars and wonders why, when he has to wear his, he finds it so itchy and uncomfortable.

Help your friends feel comfortableSometimes all his senses become overloaded and he can’t deal very well with how he is feeling. He barks or lashes out because he’s confused and scared. Luckily his owner understands how he feels and gently helps him with soothing words, removing noises and turning off bright lights. He also enjoys and feels calmed by getting stroked nice and firmly because being lightly stroked feels tickly and unpleasant.

This is who Jasper is, so he seeks out a calmer world and avoids things that make him feel stressed.

But just because Cooper and Jasper have different preferences with interaction, doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. Cooper understands he needs to be less barky and full on, so as not to make Jasper uncomfortable. They spend time together not playing the active and loud Chase Me game, but in more sedate pursuits. They like to amble through the sides of the large field hunting out woodland smells and debris. Nothing wrong with that.

In fact, Cooper thinks it’s quite nice to have a change of pace.

What can you learn from your dog?

We are all different and it’s great to have a variety of friends. If you’re the sort who loves loud, busy gigs with loads of buddies, keep a beady eye out for those who turned down the invite. Would they appreciate a one-on-one lunch time meet up instead? We have more than one gear, so move up or down to meet your friends’ level and enrich your life with those varied experiences.

Endorphins make you glow

Cooper is snuggled up in his bed. Inside its depths, as well as a half chewed cushion spilling its white fluffy contents, there’s a beige tatty blanket covered in lots of his hair. It’s a pretty classy affair. It’s cold in the house and he knows he has to curl in the tightest circle simply to keep alive. It was dark when he was stirred for breakfast and he doesn’t understand why he’s suddenly being fed in the middle of the night. But, well, it’s food, so it’s sort of okay. He starts to nod off, his belly nicely full, when he hears his name being called.

Endorphins make you glowSeriously? They want to go for a walk now? He pops his black, shiny nose into the arctic conditions of his home and thinks about how much colder it would be outside. He loves a walk, of course, but does it have to be when he’s barely awake and cold? His name is called again and he considers his dilemma. He is very cosy where he is but these humans are irritatingly persistent once they get started with one of their absurd ideas. He’d love to just stay where he is, it took simply ages to get into this perfect resting position. But… those outdoor smells… and it is his calling to investigate them… he really should check on them. If he doesn’t, then who will? They would go un-smelled. And his tubby body, already at the very peak of physical perfection, could do with a few dashes across the field to keep those leg muscles in tip top condition. He slightly grimaces thinking of how cold the grass would be on his delicate paws, but he is not one to shy away from a bit of discomfort. He unravels his body and slowly gets up, ignoring his name being called more and more insistently. He’s coming, wow, seriously chill out.

Back in his bed again, post walk, he is happy to concede he was glad he went out for exercise even though he really didn’t want to. He stretches his limbs out in four directions and yawns widely. He feels a faint hum throughout his body, the after effects of all that dashing about. He quickly drifts off, feeling warm and tingly

What can you learn from you dog?

Sometimes it’s cold out there and sometimes you’re not feeling it, but if you can coax yourself to pull yourself to the gym or out for a run, you’ll tap into those wonderful endorphins. We all know it’s easier to be motivated when it’s a gorgeous day and we wake up rested, but where it counts is those gloomy days when it’s harder. The more yeses you can manage when you want to say no, the more of those wonderful energising endorphins you can collect.

And you can always go back to bed afterwards.