Love completely

Rizla the weimaraner is a soppy dog. From the first moment she met her owner she was besotted and entranced. It’s such an easy way to be; her owner is her world, her everything, and her favourite place to be is near her.

Love is very important to Riz and she feels that giving her owner unconditional and constant love is her reason for being. For Riz, she doesn’t need to dig any deeper than just accepting the pure love she feels throughout her furry body.

If her owner goes out, Riz feels a sense of loss when she’s on her own, a tad out of sorts. It aches at her heart a little, but she potters about the house, doing her weimaraner thing. At the back of her mind, though, she’s continually wondering when her owner will be back. Something is just missing.

Love completely

Riz’s love for her owner feels like an elastic band that connects them together. The further they are apart, there is a tension, a sense of unease, and when they are close together, it’s relaxed and the natural state of things. This means it makes sense that Riz acts as a shadow, following her owner from room to room (and boy, does she move around a lot). Padding up to the toilet and waiting outside, back to the sofa and curling up. She needs and craves the physical touch of the person at the centre of her life.

Love for Riz is a sense of absolute peace. She is exactly where she’s meant to be, lying next to the person whom she loves so absolutely. She feels centred. She feels accepted. She feels loved. The calm washes over her and everything is okay.

What can you learn from your dog?

Love can be a beautiful, pure and intoxicating thing. Can you gently lose yourself in someone or something you feel an incredible innate connection to? Don’t fight it, embrace and let yourself be in the love.

 

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The first book “The Barklife Way – Introducing Cooper” is available to buy for £12.99 here: http://www.thebarklifeway.com/shop/

Life doesn’t always go as planned

Flint, the whippet has unexpectedly become a father. He fondly remembers going on a date, Lexie was a nice girl, lots in common: eating, sleeping, running and she had a cute butt. It was truly the full package. And the date ended up going… spectacularly well, shall we say? Yes, he thinks wistfully, that was a pretty good day.

He was keen to see her for a long-awaited follow-up date. He had hoped to maybe rekindle what they had previously, perhaps over a drink from a fresh water bowl. But no, things had changed dramatically: as he entered her home he saw she was surrounded by mini versions of herself. Wriggly, noisy little whippets. And these small puppies, well, they also looked suspiciously like him too. With a lurch he realised; he was their daddy.

Now puppies sure are cute, aren’t they? All waggy tails and filled to the brim with infinite joy. But five of them? All enthusiastically headed in your direction? Adamant to get your attention at any cost, whilst yapping away? Flint felt a headache coming his way as he backed into a corner. He didn’t remember a discussion about where the relationship was going, it seemed to have leapt several steps without his input. He was surely too young to be a father, he hadn’t travelled the world… all the way to that field he saw in the distance. And there were all those other things he wanted to spend his free time doing: chewing a bone, running around, napping. He didn’t want to change his bachelor lifestyle.

As the puppies eager faces stared up at him, he cocked his head to one side. Of course, there was the indisputable fact that he was fairly wise. He thought he had a lot to teach a new generation, actually. He was an absolute expert at relaxing and he wouldn’t want this envied skill-set to die with him; these offspring were his legacy to the world. Maybe, he pondered, as one of his children started nibbling his leg and one that looked the spitting image of him licked him on the nose, maybe it could be quite nice having these creatures in his life after all?

*What can you learn from your dog?*

Sometimes life throws us a curveball. There we are, planning away, moving towards a life we are trying to create for ourselves and Something Big will happen. Maybe it’s bad or at least will seem a bad thing in the moment, but it’s there and we have to roll with it. Maybe you have said it yourself, but you’ll certainly know someone who has said: “at the time I thought it was the end of the world, but actually it was the best thing that could have happened to me”. Redundancy, breakups… or an unexpected litter of puppies… you can deal with it, and it may change your life for the better.

Relax how you like to relax

Chilling out come in many forms. For Cooper, he likes to go for an ambling walk, no time pressure, just a nice lackadaisical stroll with lots of nice scent-laden bushes to sniff. He connects with nature and breathes out any anxiety and sniffs in pure happiness and peace.

Other dog friends find a good bone chewing is an excellent way to de-stress, or creating a number of gorgeous holes in a flower bed.

Flint is Cooper’s whippet buddy and is truly an expert in relaxing. When Flint relaxes he absolutely takes it to the next level. After an energising run across fields (away from an owner laughingly trying to call him back), he returns on his own agenda to his home and thinks he would fancy a nice recuperative snooze. He has his bed, of course, but he thinks it would be good to try out this nice new rug, set out in the downstairs hallway. Convenient.

Relax how you like to relaxNow Flint… he really likes to commit to relaxing. Relaxing is about letting everything go, allowing yourself to go to a place of beautiful calm. Whippets and greyhounds do this by roaching. Whereas Cooper likes to sleep in a tight, neat little circle, Flint has a different way of sleeping. He likes to lie on his back, legs splayed in every single direction. His body arcs back on itself and his head arches stretching to one side. To an outsider, it looks weird and uncomfortable, but Flint finds this position wonderfully relaxing. His body completely un-tenses and he is at one with the rug, the floor, the earth below all the way down to the core of the planet.

He is at one with the world.

 

What can you learn from your dog?

What do you do that takes away all your stresses and worries? Some people go for a long run or sweat it out piling on the weights at the gym. Maybe knitting on the sofa calms you, or fighting it out in a multiplayer computer game. Or how about literally doing nothing, staring into space and letting it all drift away. Your friend loves spa days and spending a whole day being massaged and reading magazines by a pool. This sounds horrendous to you and you’d like to cook a new recipe and share with friends.

It doesn’t matter if folding laundry is the thing that makes you at one with yourself. Relax your way.

Live until you die

Cooper’s seaside holiday buddy is a springer labrador cross called Chester. Cooper is a young dog and Chester was his first friend who was just that bit older. He didn’t like to ask, being a super polite fella, but Cooper could see that Chester had grey bits around his muzzle and his eyebrows were a bit wild with sprouting hairs. When they played, Chester would give it his all but his legs didn’t seem to want to go as fast as he wanted them to and he couldn’t always keep up with spritely Cooper. But that was fine, there are all sorts of speeds in the world, and it was just a matter of slowing down so Chester could catch up.

Now, Cooper can’t really be bothered with balls, he doesn’t see the point at all, but Chester’s absolute favourite game has always been playing fetch with a tennis ball. He would calculate incredible mathematics of projection and run at full speed towards where it was beginning to fall. Obstacles were a total inconvenience: mounds to be leapt over and bushes to push through the middle of. He could barely feel the bumps on his intense pursuit.

With the years, he still wanted that ball, but he started to be a little more measured in his quest. Going around rather than leaping over or pushing through things became the way.

Live until you die

His owners were particularly clumsy, they were always hurling endless balls far away. But he didn’t question their strange human foibles, he would just get on with bringing those balls back. His idea of the best day ever would be to get onto a tennis court and dart around to help collect all those lazily-dropped balls, bringing them back into a tidy central place.

Recently, Chester was out on his usual walk with his owner. He ran after his ball in his favourite field, excited and happy, his little heart dancing with glee. He grabbed it in his mouth, tasting the familiar rubber and furry cotton and turned to rush back. He saw his owner, waiting happily to receive his ball. This was the best! But as he made his journey back, he noticed his legs were slowing down a bit and his heart was aching in his chest. Was he imagining it, but did it seem like everything was clouding a little in his field of vision? Could he get back? Everything felt so heavy. Could he have a lie down? Just for a little bit?

Chester didn’t make it back that day, but he did get that ball. He always got the ball.

What can you learn from your dog?

Live.

Keep going. Hang onto life with all your might. How marvellous to die doing the very thing we love the most. So keep doing what you love: climb mountains, eat your favourite crisps on the sofa with friends or create the largest crochet blanket in the world. Then, one day, at the age of 104, you’ll be smiling – while really living – and you’ll pass on.

Live your life until your very last moment.

Drink water

Cooper and Joey are united again. It feels like it’s been a hundred years, but also like it was just yesterday that they saw each other. That’s the strange time confusion when you meet up with your best friend again.

Catching up involves a good sniff around the back, always interesting to find out the latest. And then… full speed rough and tumble wrestling. Cooper’s tri-colour tones and Joey’s mud-flecked white intermingle as they roll around over and over and then dash about in abstract circles and haphazard squiggles. Their little moans of play and happiness became one joint voice of joy. Onlookers seem bemused that this scene is consensual and fun as it seems like they could be fighting to the death. Of course not. This is how best mates enjoy each other’s company.

They are coaxed along by their owners in a sort of circuit of the field, but neither are interested in the usual walking routine. They dart about and then back into their tumble of joined furry bodies, in the best friend bubble where the outside world can’t join in. It is mesmerising and tiring to watch. And, unsurprisingly, also quite exhausting to be part of.

Drink waterAfter maybe two hours – or is it two minutes? – of this frenzied play date, the dogs stand panting happily. Joey looks around and locates a medium sized puddle in a dip in the field. He trots towards it, Cooper in tow. You don’t need to ask him twice, how nice to go for a drink with a friend. He slurps up the puddle water and it is deliciously tepid with debris floating in it. Cooper’s water bowl at home always seems so sterile and boring. The cooler temperature is fine, but the taste is a bit too… clean? Now, puddle water… mmmm, that’s the good stuff, they should put this in their convenient taps. The earthy tang, the flecks of twig and if they’re lucky, the odd protein kick from a dead bug or two. Delicious. They drink and drink, side by side, replenishing their energy and tickling their insides.

The excellent water gives them a second wind and after a conspiratorial glance they scamper off at top speed to continue their game.

What can you learn from your dog?

Drink water. You know you could drink more, it lubricates your body and feeds your cells. Whether you prefer clinically filtered uber clean water or you like yours with a tang of nature, cloudy with debris, drink it down and benefit from this gorgeous, life-giving, organic refreshment.

Family is who’s there for you

Cooper is a pre-owned beagle.

He lives in his home with a couple, but he didn’t always live there. There was a time when he lived far away in another place. But, he had to move on. Yes, he came to the decision – all on his own – that this previous home was becoming too crowded with a new baby on the way, so he chose a new, unfortunately dog-less couple, to be his new family. He’s pretty sure that’s what happened.

These new owners, wow, they really needed him. For a start, they just had too many cushions. He could help them with that. And the female owner… she had a lot of shoes and he wanted to help her see a world beyond material possessions. They initially seemed a bit put out by his considerate actions, but he had so much more help to give.

Beagle Welfare beaglesTheir health. Honestly, sitting around and eating all that food? He helped them by grabbing things from unguarded plates and kitchen counters. You’re welcome. And more walks were needed too, they needed the exercise as well as social interactions with other owners. He was excited to show them all the new places they could explore together.

And oh such entertainment! He serenaded them with squeaky toys whilst they watch their large rectangle on the wall. The tone of their words seemed like they wanted him to stop but why would they want to stare at a rectangle when they could watch and hear him play? The squealing ball is surely music to their ears?

He took on the role of greeter for the household, making sure guests always felt welcome (and shoving his little face into their bags to check for foodstuffs to save his owners the trouble). He also helped them feel less lonely. What they needed was a dog to push his way into the middle of them on the sofa. All cosy and comforting for them.

When his owner comes home from work, looking deflated, Cooper is so happy to see him and wags his tail so joyfully, his owner can’t help but perk up and relax. When his other owner has water coming out of her eyes and her face is all scrunched up, he doesn’t get it, but he sits right next to her and lets her soak his fur.

The owners, a twosome, expanded their love outwards to someone new. And Cooper found somewhere he could be himself and look after them. That’s what family is. People – and dogs – who are there for each other.

What can you learn from your dog?

Some of us were lucky to be born into a loving family who wanted us and helped us become the best version of ourselves. Some of us… we weren’t quite so fortunate. Family is a word we connect with who we were born to, but families can be created. Family is about finding a group of loving beings who like you just as you are. And family is there for you.

If you’re thinking about taking on a pre-owned dog, you should know that this dog wants to be your family and love you unconditionally. That’s just who he is. He may have had some challenges from his previous life, and he might need some time, patience and a lot of love, but wow, when your commitment is paid back you have the newest most loyal family member.

Cherish contentment

When you are a dog, the past, present and future are strange concepts to get your head around.

The past, well, that’s made up of memories of smells and meeting other dogs and people and sure, Cooper learns from them, but that time has gone away. There is no dog sitting around wishing they had done something differently in a scenario from their past.

The present, well, that’s literally right now. If Cooper sits, he gets the treat he’s cruelly being taunted with. Easy. The present is a pretty straight-forward idea as it’s going on in front of his shiny hazel eyes.

The future, well now, that truly is abstract. Cooper knows it’s out there. He buries bones for a future version of himself. He anticipates, based on past events, that he is going to be fed dinner at a certain time and that a night-time walk is likely to be on the cards when it just starts getting dark. His routine gives him a little security on what might happen in the coming hours.

Cherish contentmentSo with the past gone and the future just based on hopes due to previous patterns, Cooper is stuck with the now as the only place he has control over. Cooper living in the now means that he doesn’t have worry lines on his furry forehead. He doesn’t lament into a diary about how heavy his heart is of lost love. He doesn’t worry about the big 5 birthday and where that means he should be in his life. His very serious undertaking as investigator of the local field is what he does now and hopes to do always, there’s no need to consider thinking about some sort of promotion.

Cooper just doesn’t have the capacity to have a good old worry. Worry can be about expecting things to go wrong and he doesn’t think they will. All these past and future tenses are all a bit confounding, and truly it’s just best to not think too deeply about them. He chooses contentment and decides that he might as well be happy and he shares his life philosophy with us with a lot of cheeky tail wagging. Happiness comes from his food, his owners, his field and the occasional daddy-long-leg snack flying through the air into this open mouth. He just simply chooses his own happy path despite what’s happening around him that he can’t influence.

And what a fantastic and freeing choice.
What can you learn from your dog?

There will always be things in our world that happen to us. A redundancy, a burglary or an election that goes a different way. We cannot change what’s just happened. We can only change our own reaction to it.

Let’s try and look for opportunities to let the stuff you can’t affect slide off from your (non furry) back.

Let go and choose contentment.

Protect your stuff

Today Cooper has found something amazing under one of his favourite bushes. This bush makes up part of an alleyway on his usual walk and it is an absolute goldmine for discarded rubbish. He is deeply pleased that people abandon their sandwich wrappers and chip containers down here for him to investigate. Strangely, this often draws exasperated tuts from his owner, who wrestles some of them away from him to put into in a bin. No fair! Today, he’s going to need to be quick.

His owner is distracted ambling along, fiddling and staring deeply into his portable rectangle, so Cooper makes his move. A speedy double back causes a ricochet on his lead and gives him precious seconds to retrieve the most beautiful thing he has ever smelt. This isn’t food, it is something more. Something perhaps that has been around since the beginning of time. The aromas are complex: some are old and musky and others have more eye watering nuances. The colours range from grey to dark grey, not that he is that interested in the colours of things but he notes that it is interesting that a lot of things he likes the smell of are grey or black or brown. He stuffs his prize into his mouth and rushes off ahead so his owner can’t get it.

Protect your stuffBut his owner is jolted into activity and does seem to want to take this away from him! Lots of shouty words are bandied towards poor Cooper, which he obviously ignores, he will not give this up. This is his! He found it fair and square! If his owner wanted to find something like this, he should smell around the place a bit instead of shuffling absently along.

You snooze you lose.

What can you learn from your dog?

You love your iPhone? You covert your eye wateringly expensive shiny red patent heels? Those are yours! Be careful who you let borrow them, touch them or even look at them sideways. It’s definitely okay to be protective of the things that you love and make you happy.

Enjoy your exercise

Cooper has two speeds: dawdle or Olympic sprinter. He is either idling along, keeping his nose to the ground and on alert for interesting smells, or he is running at 100% capacity towards something… or away from something… or, in fact, round in a big old loop, just because.

Enjoy your exercise

He has noticed that there are these humans who are not walking and not properly running, just sort of going at a strange lackadaisical pace. Cooper finds joggers bizarre. He rushes up to them to try and encourage them to move a bit faster. He jumps up to try and inspire them to go for it, get to that place they want to get to. They don’t seem to like his motivational style, which is odd on their part as he is just trying to help, and they really do need help. What is the point of ambling along? And where are they going? He sees them go all the way down the path and then turn around and shuffle back again. They were literally going to some random, arbitrary location on the path and then turning around and coming back. Why were they in a hurry to get there then? And are they happy? Their faces are red and scrunched up concentrating and they really don’t seem to want to be out here.

These humans, seriously, their goals are odd.

When it comes to exercise, Cooper doesn’t have a plan of what pace he should be aiming for or when he should be exercising different muscles in his body. His routine is stretching with a spot of dog yoga (doga) after a nap and then pelting across grass as fast as is dogly possible. He runs because he wants to run. His body wants to move and he wants to feel his long ears flapping in the wind as he zooms around. He runs because it’s awesome.

 

What can you learn from your dog?

We know our health is important and we know we should be exercising. But sometimes we get caught up in our exercise routines that we just have to do, and it’s not fun anymore. Forget all the shoulds. Do you feel like getting out there and moving? You don’t need the perfect wicking top, an app to tell you your lap time or loud tunes to pump you up and distract you. Your ears may not flap in the breeze but run through nature for the simple pleasure of feeling your heart pumping faster and seeing what your body can do.

Don’t hold a grudge

Life is short. Life is even shorter when you’re a dog so some of the things humans fill their time with have to go by the wayside. With a lifetime being a nudge over ten years there’s no time to learn quadratic equations, spend time finding oneself or for working one’s way to the top of a career selling out to The Man.

Don't hold a grudgeCooper lives in a world where he doesn’t always get what he wants. It’s a hellish world, that much is true. Sometimes he wants the wonderfully smelling food his owners prepare, cook and ladle onto shiny crockery. He tries to explain his feelings towards wanting to share this food with them through his intense stares, but they selfishly ignore him. I mean where is the justice? Brown mush, that’s not even properly seasoned, served in a plastic bowl on the floor versus their lovingly-plated gourmet creations that smell amazing? If this just happened the one time it would be bad enough, but this happens Every. Single. Day! It’s bordering on being deeply offensive. Elitist. Cooper isn’t happy with the situation, oh no, but he can’t do much about it. It is what it is. He could hold a grudge against his owners for not including him in his favourite pastime, for taunting him with those wafting steak smells. But he chooses to be a little put out, and then move on.

The brown mush aint so bad.
What can you learn from your dog?

So much of life is unfair. The good people don’t always win and the bad people don’t always get what they deserve… at least in this life. It can be frustrating to be overlooked for a promotion you are simply perfect for. It can make you angry to know that a supposed friend has been saying things behind your back. Holding a grudge against people sadly doesn’t do much to anyone else. They might not even care or notice and the gentle rage just sits in you. Sitting like acid in your stomach. Your dog doesn’t have time for that: he shrugs his metaphorical shoulders and let’s others crack on with whatever they need to do. He will take the high road. He will instantly forget about it. He doesn’t have enough of an attention span to be resentful, and he’s all the better for it.