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Life Lessons My Dog Taught Me

My youngest dog, Dexter Jax, is a Pit Bull Labrador mix, at least according to the rescue I got him from last September. Poor guy was a stray bearing physical marks of abuse and it was evident people frightened him. My other dogs always favored my kids or my ex, but if you met Dexter you’d know within minutes that he’s my dog and I’m his human.

Dexter is very special to me. I don’t know if it’s due to the sad circumstances he came to me under or if it has more to do with the time frame in my life he arrived – two years after a divorce that knocked the wind out of me and neck deep in trying to reinvent myself whilst trying to figure out what that was even supposed to look like. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, I’m just happy he’s here.

It’s a funny thing the lessons he’s taught me since he arrived, some of which I knew at some point in my life but carelessly let myself forget or just stopped believing. Here are a few of those lessons.

Take a break from what you’re doing every two hours. Take a walk. Stand outside, breathe in the fresh air. Go pee (preferably not in the yard, although your dog may). Toss a ball. Run around the trees. It’s a great reset and a little bit of liberating.

Junk food is not good for you, whether you’re a dog or a human – especially Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Eating that never ends well for either of us.

Loyalty exists. Something about Dexter waiting up for me to get home every night, even the nights I get home well after 10pm, tired from work and law school and life, well, that kind of loyalty just humbles me.

A rocky beginning or any one rough patch in life is not a predictor of what the rest of your life will look like.

It’s important to learn to trust again, no matter how betrayed you’ve ever felt. Trust is essential to healing and moving forward.

Looks are deceiving. Dexter is over 90 pounds, has an intense stare, and he smiles with his mouth open and bearing all his sharp teeth. If dogs had jobs, people would try to hire him as a bouncer. He looks menacing, but he’s actually calm, passive and sweet. This is in contrast to my 4 toy dogs, all of whom bark incessantly like they’re trying out for roles in a ‘Cujo’ musical.

If you’re not with a man who gets incredibly excited every time you walk through the front door, jumping up and down, tail wagging and even peeing himself a bit (metaphorically speaking, of course), then he’s not the guy for you.

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