Relish your freedom

Bramble is a chocolate Labrador with a thirst for life. Today he has been brought to his favourite beach; it’s off season, with no one around, so he has lots of space to run and investigate. This is his beach.

He pads along with his owner towards the water’s edge until she is ready to let him off his lead. He looks sideways, far into the distance, and sees the untouched wet sand ready for his paw marks to stamp his identity all over it. She fiddles with his collar and his excitement rises. He thinks he sees a fellow dog in the distance and so once released he launches off into a fast run. He’s partly running towards a potential friend, but also he just loves how his body lurches forwards, trying out his leg muscles. He does love his cosy home, but, wow, this wide open space where he can move for ages in all sorts of directions.

Relish your freedomBramble eventually slows his run, coming to a panting stop. He looks out across the sea into the misty horizon. He feels the breeze tickling his floppy ears and breathes in the acrid smell of salt into his nostrils. Up above him he sees the seagulls lazily swooping around, up and down in haphazard patterns, occasionally making squawking cries to each other and at the world. This moment on his beach is a moment of absolute freedom and peace.

He looks back at his owner. She’s fiddling with her portable rectangle, her brow is furrowed. She sighs. She is often like this. He wonders why she always seems to be thinking about these bits of paper she gets piles of and then seems to need to give away. Why does she feel she needs to worry about inanimate objects? Bramble absently scrapes the sand with his paws, enjoying the feel between his toes. He feels rich. He doesn’t need anything other than these moments.

What can you learn from your dog?

Imagine you are on Bramble’s beach. Can you find that same level of freedom and peace? It’s not easy, is it? Your thoughts about all the things you need to remember, all those worries. And that ever draining bank account.

Wouldn’t you like to be at that beach more often? But, of course, work commitments, family obligations… And endlessly attempting to build that pot of cash towards retirement and then, maybe then, you’ll let yourself finally relax and have those beach moments. What a shame.

Your dog owns… nothing. He isn’t awake at 3am thinking “what if”. How can you find that inner calm?

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/

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.

Overcome decision paralysis

Dave the Irish Wolfhound has a choice this morning. A box was hurriedly put away and some of the contents had spilled onto the kitchen floor. He’s a curious fellow so he padded over, his lithe frame swaying side to side, and he was delighted to see that this particular box was the one containing his snacks. Four lovely bonio have made their way into his life. As it happens, he feels peckish and is quite keen on a biscuit. He is not greedy though, one will do. But which one?

Biscuit 1 – this one is okay, nothing special but nothing against it
Biscuit 2 – well, this one has a chunk missing from the corner, that’s less available deliciousness, but the scratchy edge might be satisfying against his gums
Biscuit 3 – the colour is slightly lighter but he thinks this one might be a bit bigger than the others
Biscuit 4 – there’s a big crack along the centre of this one which might make it easier to eat in two bites

Overcome decision paralysis

His eyes scan each one in turn, again and again, thinking about the pros and cons. He considers which might be the best one. Why is it so hard to choose? A good few minutes in now, he feels he is just nearing in on making his final decision when his ever-smiling owner comes back to the kitchen. She exclaims at the debris on her kitchen floor and hastily picks up the biscuits with a mutter. She turns to look at him, cocks her head to one side, smiles and throws him one, putting the other three back in the box.

He chomps it down.

It was not the one he would have chosen.

What can you learn from your dog?

Ahhh, the paralysis of indecision. We are often lucky enough to have several options open to us and we can get stuck weighing up each one, sometimes to the point of inertia. We think that if we don’t make a choice then it can’t be the wrong one! But we just have to move forwards, even if it’s the wrong choice. No action gets us nowhere. It may seem easier if someone else ends up choosing for us, but was their decision really what we wanted?

Big breath. Decide. And do.

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.

Revel in silence

Cooper sat patiently, with his head cocked at an angle, as his owner held aloft one of her rectangles and read some words from it to him. Sometimes when there are a stream of words in his direction they can be a bit loud and shouty, but, this time as she gesticulated as she read to him – creating a little bit of miniature theatre to entertain him – these seemed like soft words.

Not that he understood any of them.

Revel in silence

It’s quite relaxing being read to by a human. Dogs don’t have much of a vocabulary. I mean what is there to say? A bark has all sorts of intonation, force, volume and pitch to convey all sorts of expression and emotion. But these humans seem to constantly natter, what could they possibly be going on about? Do they just invent new and more complex things to talk about to fill the silence?

Cooper wondered whether there were other dogs out there that had their owner’s read to them. As an only dog it was quite lonely sometimes (only sometimes) and humans didn’t always totally get him and his extremely clear way of conveying his needs and wants. It would be nice to be part of some sort of club. Likeminded high thinkers like himself could consider the important matters of the world: why were there not more walks; why were food bowls filled with such insultingly small amounts and which sticks were the best sticks. Naturally he would be head of this group: his obvious candidacy as an Alpha had been shockingly overlooked in his own home. But then his owners did have insecurity issues so he only made a bid for power every evening or so. Which was hardly ever.

Cooper let his owner’s words sweep over him and settled into lying down, gently closing his eyes.

She really did go on.

What can you learn from your dog?

We humans, we sure love our drama. And then we love to talk about it. What are we even talking about half the time? Have we already told that not-even-that-exciting story to a few other people? Do we need to keep asking everyone questions? Can we just stop and be quiet and still?

The silence needn’t be so scary and it could even be comforting.