Life Lessons From Charlie

OK, I’ve been writing this post in my head for the past two weeks; it’s time to put it down for posterity. Robert Fulghum wrote about everything he learned in kindergarten applying to the rest of his life. I’ll take his premise and say that I’ve learned about life from my dog, Charlie.

— Take time to smell the flowers. In Charlie’s case, it’s take time to smell everything. He is led by his nose. But he knows that he may find something great if he takes the time to look for it.

— Never pass up the chance to use the bathroom. This is especially true if you’re a child on a car trip or pregnant woman out shopping. In Charlie’s world, every single upright object outdoors is the bathroom: trees, fence posts, street signs. There are times he stops to leave some p-mail and just half-heartedly lifts his leg. I know he’s got nothing left. But it doesn’t mean he’s not going to try.

— Greet everyone with enthusiasm. Everyone deserves a wagging tail in Charlie’s world. Only a precious few get barked at or avoided. If I want my husband to talk to me, I have to make sure I greet him with a kiss. Charlie would do no less.

— Keep a healthy schedule. Charlie would never let himself get tired and run down. When he wakes up, he takes a walk; when he’s hungry, he eats; when he’s tired, he naps; when he has company, he plays.

— Stay alert to the world around you. Charlie has alerted me to other people and dogs out walking, cars starting, children playing. And I’ve tugged on his leash to pull him away from a hissing cat or a growling dog. We protect one another.

— Don’t judge the dog by the bark. A big black dog around the block from us is one of our friends. So is the little spitfire down the street. They both barked at us initially, but we’ve made friends. In fact we’ve made lots of friends in the neighborhood. Charlie wags his curly tail and sniffs the other dog; I stick out my hand and introduce myself.

— It doesn’t take intelligence or money to make another person happy; it just takes caring. Charlie’s not the brightest bulb in the marquee, and he certainly doesn’t have any money, but he shows us how much he cares by cocking his head when I talk to him and snuggling with me on the couch. In the same token, I scratch his hind end and massage his ears, and he makes a grunting purr and nuzzles me with his soft muzzle if I stop too soon.

— Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm. If we ask Charlie if he wants to go for a ride, he barks impatiently at us and does a dance in the hallway if we aren’t moving fast enough. He loves to go for a ride. He’s not nuts about getting a bath, but when he’s finished, he tears up and down the hallway as if doing so will dry him faster. It’s the same for us. If I have something disagreeable to do, I make sure I’ve got something fun waiting for me.

So there you have it: life lessons from Charlie the puggle. I keep offering to nap on the couch for him, if he’ll go to work for me, but he’s smarter than that.