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From Smart Dogs: 10 Lessons for a Happy Life

by Sheron Long on January 2, 2014

Dog laughing, illustrating how learning life lessons from dogs can lead to a happy life. (Image © Dezi Greig)

Want a happy life in 2014? Ask a dog for advice.
© Dezi Grieg

Oh, I See. My Dog Taught Me!

Smart dogs can sit and stay. They can fetch and even speak on cue. But the lessons we humans give to our dogs in one-syllable commands fall way short of the rich life lessons we get in return.

Oh, I See Moments found that out when we asked dog owners to tell us the lessons they’ve learned from their smart, funny, loving and lovable pups.

The lessons go well-beyond “turn around three times before you plop down” to offer great advice on making a happy life. May these life lessons from dogs unleash happy times for you in 2014!

1. Do What Makes You Happy.

Dezi Greig’s dogs Titan and Odin taught Dezi a thing or two about happiness.

Dog running enthusiastically through a field, illustrating life lessons from dogs on doing what makes you happy in life. (Image © Dezi Greig)

Life off-leash for Titan is life lived to the fullest.
© Dezi Greig

Of the energetic Titan, Dezi says:

Titan taught me to play hard, sleep in, smile big, love more, forgive and forget. Thanks, buddy!

Greig caught the oversized Odin in an oversized chair. A happy moment, a perfect fit. What was Greig’s take-away from his pooch?

Be goofy, yell if you feel like it, if it makes you happy just do it, bite the vet.

Large dog asleep in chair,  illustrating life lessons from dogs on doing what makes you happy in life. (Image © Dezi Greig)

Big ole Odin knew how to do exactly what made him happy.
© Dezi Greig

2. Poke Your Nose into Adventure.

How can you figure out what makes you happy if you don’t partake of life?

Dog in profile with gleam in his eye, life lessons from dogs on pursuing adventure to make a happy life. (Image © Rudy Martinez)

With a gleam in his eye, Dexter is always looking
for the next adventure!
© Rudy Martinez

Comedian Rudy Martinez learned about that from his dog Dexter:

Dexter taught me that frogs are not to be ingested, golfers are evil, that big dogs are chew toys with legs, and most importantly that dogs love a good dance party as much as anyone. 

When it comes to life’s adventures, some are good and some are bad, but all count for something.

3. Live in the Moment.

When water presents itself, Lee McMullan’s dog loves to splash through it, causing Lee to develop this strategy for living in the moment:

Don’t worry, you’ll dry. 

Dog splashing through water, illustrating life lessons from dogs on living in the moment to make a happy life. (Image © Lee McMullan)

Get your paws wet! This moment may not come around again.
© Lee McMullan

4. Share Time and Treats with Friends.

From her dog Luna, Malory Mildenberger learned the best kind of treats to offer a friend:

An over-abundance of exuberance, smiles, energy, a shoulder to lean on, a paw to extend in aid, a tail that never stops wagging, eyes brighter than the sun, a thick coat for when things get a bit rough, a ball to share, and kisses to heal wounds that are either physical or psychological. 

Dog on bed whose behavior has life lessons for people on how to keep good friends close and have a happy life. (Image © Malory Mildenberger)

Behind Luna’s wise eyes are
the secrets for keeping good friends.
© Malory Mildenberger

5. Stay Curious.

What does the underside of a cow chin look like? My dog, Chula the Sheltie, just had to know. She was always curious, perhaps because she traveled between California and France and relished seeing new things.

Dog nuzzling a large plastic cow, illustrating life lessons for people on staying curious. (Image © Sheron Long)

“Pardonnez-moi,” says Chula, “I’m a little curious about your chin.”
© Sheron Long

Her curiosity took her under the food tables at the big Provencal markets, through lavender fields, down Paris streets and into butcher shops. Chula shared her French adventures from her dog’s-eye view in our book Dog Trots Globe

Her curiosity inspired me—she taught me to  sniff around and see what I could see, to sniff out fun things to do and learn. And she did everything with that wonderful Sheltie smile.

6. Pursue Your Passion.

Katrina Brooks tried to teach her pooch Max that “patience is a virtue,” but it may not be when it comes to pursuing your passion.

Dog going after food, illustrating life lessons from dogs on pursuing a passion to make a happy life. (Image © Katrina Brooks)

Max knows. Pursuing a passion can take focus and speed.
© Katrina Brooks

7. Make the Most of Every Day.

Alisha Rea was there the day her first puppy Banner was born. She describes how she literally saved the life of her best friend:

When Banner was delivered, she was lifeless and still. I began to cry and accept the fact that she was dead. My mother rubbed her all over and gave her mouth-to-mouth. I continued as my mom ran in the house for a warm cloth. Out of nowhere, I felt movement—it was so magical! I had brought her back and watched her take her first breath. That was 13 years ago. 

Smiling dog, illustrating life lessons from dogs on appreciating life. (Image © Alishia Rea)

Banner and her owner Alisha love their life together.
© Alishia Rea

Banner and Alisha grew up together. They have been a team, herding sheep, showing in 4-H, visiting nursing homes. Their bond has taught Alisha to:

Live every day as if it were my last, cherish my friends, smile over the little things, and have patience even when all seems lost. 

8. Learn New Tricks.

If you want to get out of a rut in 2014, take a lesson from Lia. This surfer dog will tell you that practice has a payoff.

Surfer dog, illustrating life lessons from dogs on learning new tricks to make a happy life. (Image © Agi Cortez)

If every doggie had an ocean, would she learn new tricks?
© Agi Cortez

Her owner Agi Cortez explains how Lia learned to surf:

Since puppydom, Lia has always preferred to sit on the center console in the car, refusing to ever take the back seat. This summer, she showed us what she’s spent years developing—her balance!

9. Be Just Who You Are.

Terina Stewart’s BFF has his own style.

Dog in sunglasses, illustrating life lessons from dogs on being yourself to make a happy life. (Image © Terina Stewart)

A big guy with style
© Terina Stewart

He likes himself and the way he looks, the one essential for loving someone else. And clearly he loves Terina. She says:

Even though he is big, he still likes to climb on my lap and cuddle.

10. Love and Be Loved Without Expectations.

Abandoned and full of drool, dirt, and mats, Thor was wandering down a highway when Kirsten Brand found him. It took Kirsten weeks to clean him up and months to heal his scars.

Now a year later, Thor has fallen in love with his forever family, protecting them seriously and loving them with all his heart. What did Thor teach Kirsten?

He taught me that when you truly and fully put into a relationship, you will get back more than you ever thought you could.

White dog with a smile, illustrating life lessons from dogs on how unconditional love leads to a happy life. (Image © Kirsten Brand)

Unconditional love is a two-way street
in Thor’s forever home.
© Kirsten Brand


To see even more of these remarkable canine-inspired life lessons, download the free ebook:

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


14 thoughts on “From Smart Dogs: 10 Lessons for a Happy Life

  1. dogs range from hence Nice i affection dogs therefore far.
    Dogs make us smile We want about Consider care that have been significantly more dogs.
    Appreciate people dogs. DOGS would be great!

  2. I am not a religious man, but dogs give me hope that there is a God. How could we have these wonderful friends unless there was some intelligent design to our world. I can’t imagine life without them.

  3. I picked up and moved from Wisconsin to Texas at the request of my oldest son after retirement from the military. It has not been an easy transition and I thank God for my companion sheltie who has gotten me through so much. We stepped right into doing pet therapy at a huge medical center that loves dogs, also reading with 5 classes of 3rd graders and visiting a special education class with handicapped children. We also do nursing homes and other special events. It has been a sanity saver for both of us to keep busy doing these things and bringing joy to ourselves and others. Our champion pets are always there for us and makes life so much easier and a blessing with them by our side.

    • Dear Diane and Anya,
      It is so fitting that you write this on Valentine’s Day as I’m sure you each are in the other’s heart! I have had three Shelties and loved each one so much. We are now looking for a new Sheltie puppy because as you say “life is a blessing with them by our side.”

  4. my friend passed away in Aug with cancer and I promised to care for his siberian husky. I came to this town after 34 yr marriage gone bad and I was heart broken and felt I had no hope. This amazing dog now brings joy to my heart. He makes me laugh and he knows when I am sad. He talks wolf talk to me and I only wish I could understand him. Some days we just go for rides and he sleeps until we stop then he looks out in assurance that we are ok. What would I do without his companionship? He has saved me from completely giving up. Thank you Dillon, you are one in a million, my friend who loves me despite my tears and fears. These pics make me realize how much dogs do teach us. How true the statements are.

    • Linda, I am so happy that you have Dillon and that he has you. I know you’ll make it through the tough times together.

  5. Oh how these pic’s hit home
    I was having a extremely difficult time this Year -Year
    I was certain everything was positive in all good sense
    However had to clean house so to speak & ones who try to work me etc.. & then I saw these pic’s all the fibulas memories came
    rushing back!
    Thanks A Million!
    Bless All The Pooches!
    My former wife & I still do care for each other we were friends before marriage .Poochesplaytime
    Yes she is amazing as well as our doggies
    I miss my daughter Jennifer Anne
    Oh how I so wish those Boys we called them
    were here now
    I still have such fabulas impromptu pic’s of Philo Lemmon’s & good old Charlie!!!
    God Bless All Pooches & their owners
    I pray they do as we did engage in just absolute run at Ocean Beach or all beaches way early or way late & Please be diligent
    of your pooches droppings!
    Not everyone Love Dogs
    So why give people something to gripe about!
    Own Your Own!
    Joe Bros……………;)

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Dezi. Thank you for those great pictures of the incredible dogs whose lives you have shared.

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