And if you don’t have a dog, what you can learn from mine…

Dog person or not, there are a few lessons we could all learn from the four-legged, furry wonders that would make our world a much better place.

  1. Treat every time your loved ones leave the house or return home as if it were the last.


The kisses and sad puppy eyes I get from my dog every time I leave the house, and the enthusiastic welcome I receive every time I walk in the door are invaluable. He makes me smile in these moments regardless of what else has happened that day, and heaven forbid if it ever were the last time we were going to see each other, I always have the comfort of knowing the memory would be a happy one.

Life is unpredictable. Hug with arms wide open. Give lot’s of kisses. Share smiles. Let your loved ones know you’re happy to see them and remind them they are important to you. This is surely a key step to creating a happy home and living without regret.

  1. Introduce yourself to strangers without holding back.

Have you ever watched dogs on a beach or at a dog park? They gallop to each other with tails a-waggin’, and skip the awkward handshake-hello combo, they go straight to butt sniffin’.

Now, I’m not saying we should all go around sniffing each other’s butts, let’s not get too carried away. But meet new people and get to know them with an open mind and no hesitation. People walk into our lives for a reason, whether it’s a chance meeting at a grocery store or a dinner party with mutual friends. You don’t want to go through life having passed up meeting the stranger that could have been your best friend or your greatest mentor.

  1. Play harder than you do anything else.

I’ll take it back to the beach, since that’s my current surrounding, but the same is true for dogs anywhere. When they get together to play, nothing else in the world matters. They could be in a crowd of people and still run after each other like they’re running an Olympic sprint without any regard for what’s happening around them. They roll in the sand and dirt without any worry over getting dirty, without any fear of getting sand in their eyes. They chase balls and birds like they will catch them mid-air every time, even though (at least with the birds) they never will. It’s the fun of the chase that counts. Our dog dives repeatedly head first into waves three times his height and strength, ready to just roll with whatever happens.

Live in the moment. Enjoy what you’re doing right now, regardless of what else is happening in the background of your life. Don’t wait until the weekend or vacation or retirement to enjoy and have fun. For the dog’s, play time is the most important time, and if we can adopt that thinking, we’ll all be a lot more satisfied and a lot less stressed.

  1. Take naps.

This has got to be one of life’s most underrated joys for people, but the dogs have got it down. Take care of yourself. Get the rest you need to feel refreshed and tackle the next part of your day. Nap peacefully and unapologetically. If you need it, do it.

  1. Be confident in the tricks you know.

My dog may not be perfect. He may not know every command. He may not always listen. But by golly, he knows “sit,” “down,” “stand,” “jump,” “high five,” “other paw,” and “spin,” and he’s damn proud of it. In fact at the sight of a treat he sometimes starts automatically going through his repertoire.

In a modern society obsessed with technology that’s advancing faster than your average Joe can keep up, it’s hard not to get caught up in the perceived expectation that you should just know everything. Don’t get down on yourself for the stuff you don’t know – whether it’s a sport, a task at work, a particular current political debate or which celebrity is now married to who. Focus on the stuff that you’re passionate about. Focus on the stuff that really inspires you or motivates you. Focus on the stuff you enjoy and do well, and be confident in it, whatever that “stuff” may be. There’s enough know-it-all’s and wannabe superheroes in the world. Just do you, and people will love you for it, but more importantly YOU will love you for it.

Take it from the dogs. Life is too short not to.

Jackie Minchillo has a double bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and public relations, and recently left behind a marketing/PR agency career in the United States on a quest to create a life that doesn’t require vacation and the opportunity to travel the world long before retirement. She’s a beach-going, dog-loving, independent-thinking freelance writer and currently lives in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with her husband and their dog Harvey. To read more about her adventures and thoughts on life, you can check out her blog at

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