I re-post this in loving memory of my Maggster:
How is it that Maggie, my ten-year old vizsla, is so excited every morning upon waking up? She’s not a puppy any more, but you wouldn’t know it at 6:00 am, with the sun streaming in and the gulls screeching. As soon as I move, she leaps from her bed and throws herself on the floor at my bedside. (My wife is certain that she hears my eyes opening.) She rolls over and arches her back, twisting. Then she rights herself, stretches, squeals, and rolls over again, crashing to the floor. I struggle to get out of bed amidst her bounding and cavorting. Lastly, she rises, braces her legs in support and flaps her ears. I’ve tried to count. It’s either six or seven rotations of her head, ears slapping accordingly. Lately, she has taken to letting out a deep resounding howl, as if to announce to the world that she has risen. She is like the German grandmother, wagging her finger, “Morgen Stund hat Gold im Mund,” or “The mourning hour has gold in its mouth.” It is all, frankly, annoying. But learning by repetition can be annoying. Yet, for some such as myself, that is, individuals for whom the previous day’s lessons are likely forgotten with each new dawn, repetition is the only way. That is the stuff of habits and I have always believed in them–at least the good ones. The bad habits require belief in something opposing. That is the only way to break their backs. Good habits are practices of self-sustaining discipline. Yet, I have much to learn, even as I’m subjected to the habitual morning training at the hands, dare I say paws, of my dog.
Every dawn, rain or shine, Maggie performs her routine at my feet. All that excitement and enthusiasm and joy. Every morning that lesson gets drilled into me. You must see where I’m going here. I have never met a soul who musters, at the prospect of each day, such happiness as Maggie. Life should be so simply learned as to watch our dogs and emulate them. Unconditional love, curiosity, loyalty, boundless joy. (I choose to ignore the chewed shoes, the ruined carpet, the surprise in the closet. Learning to ignore the troublesome aspects of existence is sometimes a lesson too. ) And the current lesson: a canine reminder, carpe diem. I’m a slow learner. Maggie is a good teacher. Her work is not yet done.