Monday, May 16, 2011


A few months ago, I stepped into a big, brown, round, smelly piece of fluffy goodness. His name is Dunkin, yes like Dunkin Donuts (ssshhh...don't tell Starbucks!). Dunkin is just how his name sounds, a goofy, dunce-like, happy-go-lucky, slightly lazy, chocolate labradoodle. He's also the best teacher I've ever had.

Ever see the bumper sticker, Wag More, Bark Less? That's Dunkin. He's a wag more; bark less kind of a dog, as most dogs are. And he's a prime example of how we should all be walking through life.

Here are the Top 10 lessons Dunkin has taught me:

1. Unconditional love - Pets are amazing at how freely they give you love. They love you in the morning, afternoon, and night. They love you regardless of your flaws, your imperfections, the way you dress, or the way you talk. They are beautiful creatures that love you and never hesitate to show it. How unconditional is your love?

2. Pure happiness - Dunkin is a happy dog. He is always smiling, yes he smiles. He displays a spirit of pure happiness no matter who, or what, is around him. His happiness is contagious. Is your happiness contagious?

3. To prance - Dunkin doesn't just walk; he prances. When he retrieves, he hops, you know, like a bunny does. He lives in this world with full excitement and isn't afraid to show it. Do you prance?

4. Play hard - When its play time, Dunkin goes all out. There isn't one ounce of him that isn't 100% committed to the task at hand, whether it's retrieving his favorite stuffed monkey or chasing after the neighbors cat, Kramer. He puts it all out there and he has fun while he's doing it. How much effort are you leaving on the table?

5. Eat only when hungry - Go ahead and chuckle, but it's true. In a country of over-indulgence, it's easy to consume more than we need. Hey, where did those extra 10lbs come from? With Dunkin, I can put a bowl of food in front of him and if he's hungry, he eats, if he's not, he leaves it there. He has self-control, something many of us struggle with, not just with food but also in life. How over-indulgent are you?

6. No prejudice - Dunkin loves everyone equally. Maybe it's because dogs are colorblind, but he jumps, licks and mulls over everyone equally with his excitement to see them. He doesn't care about size, gender, race, or hair-cut and he greets everyone as a friend. Judgmental or friendly, where do you stand?

7. Never give up - When Dunkin wants something, he doesn't stop until he gets it. Maybe it's his toy that's stuck under the couch, or his constant placing of a toy in my hand so I'll throw it for him, regardless of what he wants, he's not stopping until he gets his way. How many times do you give up?

8. Wag more - There's no lack of wagging with this dog. The epitome of a positive attitude, we can all stand to learn the lesson from Dunkin. He chooses to wag more often than not. He chooses to see the good in everything and rarely takes notice of the negative, if ever. How's your tail wagging these days?

9. Bark less - It's a rare occasion to hear Dunkin bark. Usually when he is warning us of what he assumes is danger - the UPS woman coming to the door is his favorite. Dunkin's instinct of something dangerous is a good reason to bark - but that's the only time. How often are you yelling, screaming, or being negative when it's not necessary?

10. Give more than you take - Probably the most profound of the lessons I've learned is about how Dunkin gives much more than he takes. He gives more love, more energy, more cuddles, more licks, more wags, more burps (yes, he burps!), more everything and expects nothing in return. He takes nothing from me. Are you a giver or a taker?

Dunkin has been a great example and teacher of common lessons worth a good reminder every now and then. He's currently applying for a Ph.D. in Barktitude. You can follow him on his Dogbook page.

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