Life lessons from a dog

Jun 2, 2017 | 22 comments |

When I was living a life that didn’t fit me, I thought about the one that would. The life I then imagined was bracketed by what I called “the three p’s” – porch, pooch and pickup truck. All three represented a more authentic way of living that was better aligned with the values I hold dear.  

I still don’t have a pickup truck, but almost two years into my new life in small-town Canada, I have a house with not one but two porches and, if we’re connected on Facebook or Twitter, you may know that I’ve also recently gained a pooch.

Since I grew up with a dog, I’m not quite a debut dog owner, but until Floppy Ears, a fourteen-month-old rescue Walker Hound-Beagle mix joined our lives, I’d forgotten how many life lessons our canine friends can teach us.

The world according to Floppy Ears…the top ten:  

  1. Stop and smell the roses (or if you’re a hound, smell anything that takes your fancy). The olfactory world is rich and often overlooked.
  2. New friends are everywhere and only a tail wag away.
  3. Sometimes it’s best to ignore small irritants. That Chihuahua may be annoying, but in the broad spectrum of life he’s not worth getting worked up over.
  4. There’s always more than one way to solve a problem. If your seatbelt prevents you from sticking your nose out of the half-open car window, turn around. The wind also feels fabulous on the end of your tail.
  5. Naps give you extra energy to make the most of your day.
  6. Tell others what you need, but in appropriate ways. Clinking your empty water bowl against your food dish to tell a busy author you’re thirsty is good. Pulling books off shelves because you’re bored is not.
  7. Have fun with fashion and accessorize. Whether it’s a pink collar so others know you’re a girl, or a cute raincoat to keep you dry in wet weather, your clothes say a lot about who you are. 
  8. Walking aids fitness, stress reduction and weight management. Two brisk walks a day help keep the doctor (or vet) away.
  9. People will judge you by your appearance (especially if you have a gorgeous tri-colour coat and soulful brown eyes), but pretty is as pretty does. Good manners and consideration for others leave a more positive lasting impression than looks alone.
  10. Don’t take yourself too seriously and make time for play every day.

Just as we can choose the lives we want, we can also choose our families. I’m grateful that mine has expanded to include Floppy Ears—writing buddy, snuggle bug and personal trainer in one.

Now if only that silver pickup truck would roll into my driveway sometime soon. Floppy Ears would love riding in a truck, don’t you think?

(For regular Floppy Ears pics and news, follow her on Instagram, an account managed by English Rose).  


  1. Heidi Vanstone

    Welcome to the family, Floppy Ears! Your cousin, “Speedy”, is anxious to meet you!

    A dog makes life sweeter, even when we might be in the midst of a crisis. Wagging tail, friendly licks and a limitless reservoir of doggy kisses are one of God’s great blessings to humans, in my opinion.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks for the welcome, Heidi. Floppy Ears is looking forward to meeting “Speedy,” too! Dogs are indeed one of God’s great blessings to us. And as I learned in Sunday School so long ago, “Dog” spelled the other way round is “God.”

  2. Dorine Fowke

    Good advice. But hmmm, I’d like to see you wag your tail. Hands are fine, but in the grand scheme of things, tails are…..I’ll let you complete that on your own.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Ha, ha!! Thanks, Dorine. You’ve given me a lunchtime laugh! I appreciate you reading and commenting.

  3. Lynn Folliott

    Wonderful life lessons Jen!Floppy Ears is too entertaining and such a great addition to your family. Another heartwarming post…Thanks Jen

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Lynn. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Floppy Ears has brought much laughter (and love) to our lives. Almost can’t remember what life was like before she joined our family.

  4. Kate Field

    Excellent lessons, and such lovely pictures! I don’t know how you get any writing done with Floppy Ears around, she’s adorable! x

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Kate. Floppy Ears is a blessing in all our lives. She’s good company but I get more writing done when she’s napping! x

  5. Janice Diduck

    Sounds like you are enjoying life. Love the photos. Our dog also must sniff everything and everyone. He is a fan of car rides as long as he can stick his nose out the window.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Floppy Ears and your dog would get along well, Janice. Partners is sniffing! Thank you for reading and sharing.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks, Jennifer. Floppy Ears is well awareness of her cuteness and knows how to work it!

  6. Sue Bavin

    What a wonderful blog, Jen. So much fun. Number 4 made me laugh. I love the thought of Floppy Ears sticking her tail out of the car window. She certainly knows how to make the most of her opportunities. And she looks gorgeous in her rain-coat. (She would need it here today in North Wales – it’s bucketing down.) This blog has made me wonder what life-lessons I could learn from our cats. Is it a life-lesson if it involves sardines or chasing string? Or sleeping for 75% of the time? Or hogging the bed – now there’s definitely a life-lesson in that one….

    • Jen Gilroy

      And thanks for making me laugh in return, Sue. Floppy Ears is indeed attuned to opportunities! You’ve also made me reflect on life lessons from cats. Chasing string requires focus & dexterity and sardines are an oily fish…supposed to be part of a healthy diet for humans, too. As always, I appreciate you reading and sharing.


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