Zig Zag

Now Cooper is well aware there is an optimal route between A and B. If he were at position A and there were a mysterious cat at position B, he would launch like a rocket between the two points, perhaps breaking the sound barrier in the process. He knows there’s a fast way to get over there, but… is that usually the most interesting way to get there?

Zig ZagFor Cooper, he likes the scenic route. Because the world he is in has haphazard smells all over the place, it’s important to take a zigzag route to best find as many of them as possible. Does a rabbit take a direct route? No. Does a hedgehog? Nope. Foxes? Never. Well then, he has to replicate these woodland creatures’ movements to track the routes they have been and investigate their goings on. To outsiders it may seem like he is dawdling and that he has no plan. Oh, he has a plan.

Sometimes his owners get a bit frustrated with him, yanking on his lead if he is still connected to them, or calling him back to them (good luck with that). They seem to think that that the walk part of their day is a chore. Something to tick off of a list. Errr, no, it’s the whole point of the day.

The zigs and zags are the adventures. Within a zig he finds out that there wasn’t just one rabbit scurrying about earlier, but two. During a zag he found a hidden mound of squished manure that was begging for a good sniff. Imagine if he had missed out on these?!
What can you learn from your dog?

We are always rushing to our destinations. Which is the fastest choice of roads… would a train be quicker… if we leave at a certain time, can we miss the traffic. We want to blank out the travel and simple relocate ourselves to the place we are trying to get to. Could you add a little zig into your commuting routine? Could you zag on the way back from a school run?

Take the scenic route by zigging and zagging and discover something.

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.

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.

Get on with it

There’s a certain amount of song and dance involved before announcing an interesting thing and the interesting thing happening. It drives Cooper just bonkers. This is how it typically goes:

1. Owner says the “walk” word – woohoo!
2. Owner then thinks he will go to the toilet for simply ages
3. Owner looks for a hat
4. Owner looks out the window to see what the weather is like and then selects an appropriate coat
5. Owner ponders which shoes to wear
6. Owner finally puts the shoes on
7. They have laces, whatever the point in those are, so this takes an excruciatingly long amount of time
8. Owner changes the hat for another one
Get on with it9. Owner rummages through pockets to check for poo bags and dog treats (this latter part is an acceptable delay, but only just)
10. Owner takes keys from the hook, puts them in one pocket, then puts them into the other while muttering to himself
11. Owner decides that maybe he will just have a quick glass of water. This is out of an extremely inefficient glass rather than a bowl so takes a ridiculously unnecessary amount of time
12. Next is the lead, which is clipped onto his collar. This always takes a few goes and is nothing to do with the fact that he won’t sit still
13. Owner calls up the stairs a string of boring walk-less words to the other owner
14. They go out for a walk

This is how it should go:

1. Owner says the “walk” word
2. They go out for a walk

When Cooper wants to do something, he just gets on and does it. He doesn’t understand what all this procrastination is at all. Decide and do. No wonder humans need to live 90 years, they take nine times as long to do anything.

What can you learn from your dog?

Whether it’s preparing to go out, or sitting at a desk spinning a pen around in your fingers as you ponder beginning that big report, there is an argument to be made for just getting on with it. Procrastination and wasting time before you do the thing you need to do is just pointless filler time. Take a leaf out of your dog’s book: decide and then immediately do. Get on with it.

Own your mistakes and apologise

Every dog owner, I’m sure, has come home to a scene out of a disaster movie. That is if the disaster movie was about destroyed couch cushions, up-ended bins, ransacked cupboards and broken shards of vases.You open the front door. Dog is suspiciously absent. You walk into the front room to find yourself rooted to the spot in slack jawed amazement, transfixed at what’s been done to your property. You look around at the destruction and notice more and more things that your dog has decided are his to play with.Oh, and here he comes.

Cooper walks quietly down the stairs. He stays out of reach in case this turns ugly and he needs to run away to hide under a bed. There’s words… lots of words thrown in his direction. Wild gesticulation too (this is never good) and the words are getting louder and more annoyed. What can one do? He was left alone for a hundred years. Is he supposed to just go into standby mode until someone returns to keep him company? He had decided to express his distaste to the management of his home. Of course, what seemed like a good idea then, suddenly doesn’t seem the best right now. But what’s done is done.

Own your mistakes and apologiseHe slowly moves closer to the hallway, just beyond reach. He knows she likes it when he sits (she’s always banging on about how he should) and he wants to make her happy again, so he gently sits. He waves his tail sadly. This is his sorry tail wag. The words hurled in his direction become a little less loud and the hand waving eases off. She begins to move some of his creative destruction around. Time for the final part of his apology which takes the form of a pleading and intense stare. He channels all of his charisma into looking as pitiful and – honestly – as pretty darn cute as he can. Can she resist this combo? He turns up the tempo of his tail wagging, just a little. The words have stopped and she stares at him. She sighs. Oh, this is a good sign, he knows it’s okay now, and he approaches her to apologise properly. She strokes his head and whispers words and he knows he is forgiven. Phew.

He has learnt his lesson and will definitely never do this again.

 

What can you learn from your dog?

Dogs have apologies down to an art form and are happy enough to own up to a mistake and take what’s coming if it will make us happy again. It can be hard for us humans to own up to messing something up and apologising. Yes, we did leave the kitchen in an absolute tip. No, we didn’t get that essay in on time. Your dog would own his mistake. Apologise. Don’t make excuses: this was on you. Do you know, you might just get a bunch of respect for it, and if you’re lucky have your hair ruffled in forgiveness.

Learn from your nemesis

As well as having a best friend, Cooper has a nemesis. Here’s how it went down.

There he was, minding his own business on his usual walk, rounding the corner to the front of the local shop. That’s when Cooper saw a dog tied to the railings outside, waiting for his owner. Obviously, being the friendly fella that he is, Cooper bounded over to say hello and sniff some butt. This dog, though, was a big dog. Maybe Cooper didn’t twig because this dog was sitting down hiding his true height, or maybe he just wanted to say hello so badly and share butt sniffing he forgot his own cautious approach rules. The other dog didn’t like being approached by an over-exuberant dog and took it pretty badly having his personal space infringed. He nipped our hero on his side. A surprised shriek and Cooper was running back to hide behind his owner’s (metaphorical) skirts.

Cooper had meant so well. He was being friendly and was properly wagging away to show his good nature. This was a completely unfair and unprovoked assault! Cooper had found his nemesis.

Learn from your nemesisHaving a best friend means finding someone who builds you up, has the same sense of fun and makes you happy in yourself.. Finding your nemesis reminds you that not everyone is worthy of your time: they hurt you, don’t have the same values and are unpleasant to be around. It’s a lesson to be learnt, for sure, and Cooper has sworn to follow the official cautious approaching-a-strange-dog process to the letter from now on.

Now, each time Cooper turns that corner round by the shop, he rushes to the spot where he was outrageously attacked and where a little piece of his innocence was taken. He wants to meet that dog again. Very badly. He has a lot to say.

What can you learn from your dog?

Sherlock Holmes had Moriarty, Harry Potter had Voldemort and like it or not, these relationship shaped them. It would be pretty hard to get through life getting on with absolutely everyone and there will always be those who take issue with our fundamental selves. What can you do about that? Sometimes it’s someone we are related to who seems to always rain on our parade, or maybe it’s a colleague who continually undermines our efforts.

Whoever it is, rise to the challenge. Don’t change yourself: become an even better version of yourself.

Love your best friend

Man is a dog’s best friend. Now, who came up with that? Cooper thinks that his owners no doubt want him as their best friend – he’s pretty awesome – but they don’t always totally get him.

Cooper thinks that his best friend is Joey. Joey is a local cockerpoo who every now and again ends up on the same schedule as him with the dog walker.

Joey is amazing.

Joey is insane.

Love your best friendFrom the split second they first met they knew this was something different. Joey gets him. Running around and chasing is so important and it’s non stop with Joey. Oh and wrestling, wow. They tumble over and over through the freshly mown grass. Joey’s cream curly coat getting stained with spring green. Cooper doesn’t mind a play of course, but he is a hound and his sniffing is an important part of the walk. But with Joey around there’s no opportunity to investigate bushes. The energy of this crazy dog is contagious and Cooper is energised into a long barking tirade as he merrily sprints the length of the field to attempt to catch up.

After a walk where Cooper has seen Joey he is more tired than usual. It was nice to put his usual sniffing business on hold and just roll around having fun instead. Falling into a happy slumber, he dreams about the bouncy adventures they have together.

There is nothing more satisfying and perfect than having a catch up with a best friend. It can be days, weeks or months, but when they’re united again it feels like it’s been no time at all.

He hopes he will see him again soon.

What can you learn from your dog?

Do you have someone who you can hang out with and it’s just easy to be with them? You know when you’ve found them because being with them is effortless. You don’t have to be something you’re not or to have hoovered the lounge, be looking your best or pretend to be on top of life. They become a part of you and mustn’t be taken for granted. They like you for you. And you know what, you like them for them too.