A Dog’s Guide to Happiness

By Sarah Wilson, MA, Healthy Planet Staff Writer

Every time Lou comes home, Daisy stops what she is doing, grabs a favorite toy, and stands near the side door, wagging so hard she hits her sides. She is waiting for the moment he enters.

People told me many times as a dog trainer how they wished their partners would give them the affection that their dog got. I’d often wondered if they gave their partner the level of attention the dog did? Taking that to heart, I decided to follow her example. Now, I also stop what I am doing to go greet him with open arms and a smile. Whatever else I have to say or need to do can wait for a few moments. It takes so little time, but this simple habit makes me happier, and, judging from his smile when he opens the door, Lou enjoys it, too. 

Out walks, whenever Daisy sees a human she wags and focuses on them hoping for some interaction. Every time. Very few are interested in engaging as they are out and about, living their lives. But those multiple misses do not discourage her. She simply moves on, equally enthusiastic when the next human appears on her horizon. She does not take it personally, read anything into it, or feel the least bit rejected. I try to absorb her lesson though I do so imperfectly.

At home, whether it is lying belly up in bed, finding a sunny spot to nap in, or playing with a well-worn tennis ball, Daisy completely enjoys what life offers. She does not appear (nor do I believe she actually can) judge her life against any other. The sun appears – why not take a nap? The bed is soft – why not splay to the ceiling? Unencumbered by social norms or other worries, she simply is. She reminds me of the saying: Happiness isn’t getting what you want but wanting what you get. This is attributed to a few people including Garth Brooks, Rabbi Hyman Schachtel, and author Beverly Lewis, but, in my opinion, it’s just the sort of thing Daisy would say if she could.