Perfection is boring

Cooper is very happy to be himself. He knows he is the embodiment of absolute excellence and he would never fret concerning himself with someone else’s negative views. They’re simply incorrect.

Occasionally, Cooper has a trip to the vet. He enjoys these visits as it’s where a white-coated stranger strokes and inspects his body and gives him snacks for the privilege. He is bemused that someone wants to give him treats to look inside his ears and put a cold, metal device on his torso, but who is he to judge someone’s natural interest in him? Of course they’re fascinated to see how he ticks.

Perfection is boring

What he doesn’t like about the vets is being asked to stand on a large platform in the corner. There is some sort of output screen to the side which everyone stares at (rather than at him, which is unusual in itself) and when it settles onto a constant result the stranger has a sharp intake of breath and shakes her head. His owner looks shame facedat the floor. What? What’s the problem? The vet then points at his belly, his beautiful belly, and starts giving instructions to his owner. Errr, that’s *his* belly, and it’s exactly how he likes it. Of course, it’s a little bigger than it once was, but that is because he has every intention of hoovering up any food he likes the look of and why would he deny himself that wonderful pleasure in life? Cooper doesn’t appreciate this fat-shaming nonsense.

Cooper feels he is healthy just as he is. He has two excellent walks a day, and some of that is spent rushing around in dizzying circles. Could he do more, sure. His ambling along sniffing bushes isn’t the most calorie burning activity and eating discarded sausage rolls from the pavement doesn’t help his waistline. He admires other dogs who have sleek outlines and is impressed at the efforts of long legged energetic friends dashing and leaping around his field. I mean… he could join in…

But whatever. He is his own – slightly chubby – authentic self.

What can you learn from your dog?

Your flaws are what make you unique. Your dog doesn’t waste time thinking about his wonky tail or too long ears, they are part of who he is and that’s that. The people who love you don’t love you because you are a particular dress size and they don’t care that you don’t measure up to airbrushed pictures of models in magazines. They like you just as you are. And so should you.

Grow old gracefully

Cooper has a dog neighbour called Millie who is a much larger dog; a Great Dane. But even though she towers over his smaller frame, somehow she’s not one of those Big Scary Dogs. Millie has a quiet, wise gracefulness that calms him and people around her.

Recently, Cooper had a dinner date at Millie’s and he immediately noticed her enormous bed. He thought it looked really comfy so tried it out and ended up quickly falling into a blissful nap. Millie didn’t mind. She knows it’s a nice place to take a rest and it’s good to look after her guests. Especially those younger ones who spend so much of their time dashing about.

Grow old gracefullyWhen you’re a younger dog, your life is about investigating the world and having new experiences. Every new squeaky dog or pee-covered bush is a delight. As one’s age advances, a lot has become familiar, but that makes it wonderfully comforting. There is no need to dart around in circles to see absolutely everything immediately. It’s okay to move at a slower pace and explore more gently. A fresh new toy is fine, but it’s also nice to engage with a fluttering butterfly, wondering what it’s up to. In her younger days, Millie may have snapped at the dancing insect, but she now enjoys being mesmerised by its beautiful air aerobatics.

Her own health is key with the advancing years and Millie takes her water drinking seriously. She likes to take in big gulps and let it drain from her lips as she walks off, maybe wiping the drips onto a sofa cushion. Her owners don’t seem to agree with this method, but they don’t have her unwieldy lips to deal with, with their neat tiny mouths. They just don’t understand.

Millie sports on trend vibrant Harlequin black and white markings, but the body inside her fur doesn’t work quite as well as it once did. But that’s fine too. She doesn’t need to pelt across fields or leap up onto fences. She has noticed that because she’s bigger, sometimes when she’s out and about little dogs bark and yap at her, maybe trying to take her on. She just looks away. She doesn’t react to anyone trying to goad her, there’s just no need to engage in any sort of conflict. An easy calm life is the way. It’s perfectly lovely ambling along with her owners, gently taking in the sights. Their communal quiet reflection as they take an afternoon saunter is wonderful for the soul.

What can you learn from your dog?

Us humans, we do tend to dread getting older. But with age comes comfort and wisdom. It’s just a different time in our lives where we can slow down and be more in touch with the world that seemed a blur in our younger years.

Like our wise, older dogs: respect the additional years to your life and explore the changes with grace.

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.

Love the autumn

Cooper loves the autumn. Towards the end of summer, he is beginning to get a bit fed up of all the endless panting and needing to detour to puddles for a mid-walk water top-up. The black parts of his fur always seem to be aglow as he pads along under the sun and he prefers to take his investigation deep into undergrowth to find some respite.

The first sign that autumn is coming is that he sees all his favourite trees start to change from bright greens into browns, golds and reds. And then, one day, leaves begin to fall off. In his garden, the big tree at the back also begins to drop those big green, not-tasty-at-all apples onto his lawn. Whilst the apples are a pointless food, they do seem to attract some interesting characters into his domain so they have their use. Though these apples are sour and difficult to eat, creatures like to take nibbles on their detour across the grass, rubbing their scent deliciously on blades.

Love the autumnWalks are quite different too. Gone is the warmth from the pavement, tickling and teasing his paws as he traipses along. Instead he likes to watch his breath puff out in front of him. It’s funny how he only sees his breath half the year and he huffs it in all directions to see it appear and then be whisked away to be mingled with all the other air, way up into the sky. His owner doesn’t seem to want to see his own breath, and hides his face in a big, warm piece of fabric. He’s missing out.

Oh and the smells! Smoke from bonfires in the distance, damp soggy wet leaves gently rotting and so many creatures darting around preparing for colder times. Squirrels are one of Cooper’s favourite curiosities. They cheat, of course, scampering up tree trunks they know he can’t follow them up. Cheeks bulging with nuts. But the chase is always glorious and one day, oh one day, he will master climbing sideways up a tree.

Now while Cooper loves walks, in this season it’s lovely to get back home and find a warm spot by a heater to curl up in for a lovely nap. His little out-of-breath body squishes deep into cushions and blankets and it’s a wonderfully satisfying way to recover and think and then dream about all the creatures he saw on his travels. His mind intermingles deep colours and complicated smells and paints beautifully comforting imagery as he drifts off.

The autumn is a wonderful time of year for an investigating dog.

 

What can you learn from your dog?

Autumn is when nature starts slowing down again. All the bright, energetic colours begin to fade and we’re surrounded by cosy warm colours to take us up to winter. Pack away your flimsy wardrobe and gather your knits from the attic. Buy yourself a soft new gorgeous scarf you can burrow your face into.

Sync up with the change in pace and love your autumn.

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.

Stretchhhhhh

After a satisfying sleep that involved not only finding, running after and then catching a cat, but also being crowned the King of all cats in a surprising twist, Cooper opens his eyes and blinks a few times at the bright late morning sunshine. He does a quick recap: post breakfast sleep, quick investigate to check the perimeter, mid morning sleep, relocate to bedroom, and he has finished his third nap before midday. Excellent. All is on schedule.

Now Cooper does not belong to the medical profession (by his own choice) but he does know a little about post-nap essentials. It’s a rookie mistake to leap up and carry on about your business without consideration to the fact that your body hasn’t moved for an hour. He is a pro. First, begin with mouth exercises. A good and gentle yawn is good. No sudden movements or those muscles won’t behave. Then come out of the curled up position, slowly, vertebra by vertebra, unfurling into a less circular position. Hop down from your spot into a clear area. Now the real work begins. Years of self training would make Cooper a black belt at this next part, if there were such an accolade. There are two moves. Two moves, but oh such moves. Dog yoga – or “doga” – now begins; onlookers are welcomed but not encouraged as this is a sacred time. Cat stretch
He begins with a cat stretch. Obviously he doesn’t call it this in his mind, but this is what his owners’ call it, much to his dismay. The cat pose stretches out his spine that has been curled around for the last hour. He splays his front paws for stability (and a cheeky paw wake-up stretch while he’s there) and arches his back. It feels good to expand his spinal bones and get them back in the right place. At the same time he elongates his neck, maybe throwing in a little yawn and mouth stretch. Excellent. Back and neck done.
Downward facing dogThe second move is downward facing dog. He doesn’t mind his owners calling the move this, but it’s not exactly imaginative. This pose is an energising movement. It stretches out all his four leg muscles and builds strength, which he needs for when he’s bounding about fields with long, long grass. He makes a satisfied little grunt as he commits to the pose and stretches out his aches from his sleeping position. And done. Don’t be fooled that two positions for a short amount of time don’t give him health benefits. He is in tip top condition apart from his barrel like stomach, and that’s due to big bones. Big stomach bones. Whatever.

What can you learn from your dog?

Stretching is a great way to start the day (or post-nap). It gets your blood moving and gives your joints a chance to get used to not being still. Yoga (and doga) is energising, strength building and great for your mental health. No wonder your dog wags his tail so much.