All I need to know in life I learned from my dog

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In 1986, Robert Fulghum, a Unitarian parish minister, published a bestseller titled, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It was an overnight success.

Fulghum outlined 16 points of what he learned in kindergarten and how they were applicable in our daily lives. When our daughter ended her college golfing career at Hanover College, I wrote an article for the sports page on “All I needed to know in life I learned on the golf course.”

It was my take on how nature and quiet and the people that you meet year after year become your “tribe.” They are lovers of the game; the ones who share your feelings about your children, golf, nature and that God-filled expanse, a golf course.

Two months ago, I lost a companion, a friend, a piece of my life that was a gift from my daughter. I lost my Yorkshire terrier, Bogey. He was nine years old and, well, MY DOG. He tolerated guests, despised small children, but loved me. During the last nine years, he taught me many things. We all love our pets, but there was something about this sweet dog that captured my heart. As a tribute to all who have lost a pet or will ever, God forbid, lose one, all I needed to know in life I learned from my dog.

— Love with your whole heart.

— Talk a walk alone or with a friend.

— Just sit.  Look around.  Breath in and out.

— Take a nap or two each day.

— Discern who really is your friend and send blessings to those who aren’t.

— Eat fruit.

— Share a treat.

— Listen to good music.

— Take a drive just for the sake of taking a drive.

— Sit in the middle of your yard and take in the beauty.

— Kiss someone you love.

— Just listen

— Watch a good movie with a friend.

-— Be yourself—growls, bad hair, rumpled clothes and fur.

— It is okay to cry and cry.

— Be there for someone who needs you.

— Splurge and eat steak.  Life is short—eat good food.

— It is okay to pee outside.

— Sometimes you have to let go.

— Always look up.  That is where I am and where I will be, waiting for you.

For nine years, Bogey sat beside me, day and night. When I retired, he was my alarm clock running upstairs at 7 a.m. to wake me. He ate lunch with me and begged for apples and cantaloupe. He was my nurse when I felt bad. He was the ultimate protector. He loved to sit and watch the birds and would fly to the door if you whispered the word, “cat.”

Bogey was my friend and confidante. He would watch movies, read with me, and watched me while I hooked my rugs. He loved popcorn.  I look back on all the good pets do for us. They make us better people; more loving, more kind, less judgmental, and more open. I can only be happy for all he taught me and continues to teach me each day. I miss my dog.

Lisa Johns is a former teacher and librarian as well as an activist on revitalizing downtown Winchester.