I was never what one calls a ‘dog person’. I love cats. Having been bitten by a dog as a child, which I am sure was an accident, I was always afraid of dogs. When our pup came into our lives, things changed. Though I am still not comfortable with all dogs, I look at them differently. I have come to love those creatures.

With time, I have learned from Karu, our Labrador Retriever. I would like to share some of the lessons.

Live in the now

Dogs are very intense creatures. Whatever they do, be it running, sniffing, playing; they are going at it wholeheartedly. Karu doesn’t think of the future. He is subject, object, past, present and future rolled into one. He stays in the present.

Enjoy whatever you have, whatever you are doing, now.

Be consistent

Karu’s favourite word is ‘walk’. Admittedly, it is the cutest thing to see his reaction to that word. He tilts his head, gets up (if not jumps up), wags his tail, fetches his leash and goes to the front door. But saying it and not doing it, is such a let-down.

When you say or promise something, do it. Don’t forget about or ignore it.


Our dog is pure goodness. A few months ago, he got savagely attacked by another dog. Karu was lucky as his lung was close to being perforated. It took several weeks of antibiotics, daily visits to the vet, love and care, but he got over it. The attack was so bad many neighbours are now scared or apprehensive to go walk their dogs, not just us. However, in Karu, there is not a string of anger, revenge or even fear. A negative experience hasn’t changed his outlook on life.

Let go. Move on, and enjoy whatever is, is his message.

Love unconditionally

Dogs have so much love to give. They want to be close to you, love to give their (wet) kisses (if you let them ?). They are there. For you. You move, they follow, silently. You call them, they come. They are always ready to give you what you need.

Give love, without expecting anything in return.


Dogged means perseverance. When a dog gets down to something, chewing a bone, destroying a book, digging a whole, he goes on and on. He doesn’t let go. Very little can distract Karu when he has his mind on something. (Except for a walk).

Create your goal and go for it. Don’t give up.


There is always time for play and laughter. He might be fast asleep but if we call him to play, he gets up and joins in. Our favourite game with him is hide and seek. I call him in a certain way which he recognises as the signal for the game. He looks for me and is very happy when he finds me, jumps and wags his tail.

Take a break, laugh and play, it brings new energy.

Show what you feel

When our lab is excited, he has this funny jump, all four paws up in the air, front paws twisting, he even spins. Tail wags fervently. He runs up and down. He just can’t contain his happiness.

Expresses what you feel, shows who you are.

Always find a positive way to put things

When he is upset, he begins to play. He steals a slipper, a sock, a hat, anything he can find to get our attention. He runs in front of us, hoping we see him and give him attention, or take him for a walk.

Even a negative message can be presented in a positive way.

Be gentle

Our lab is strong. His jaw muscles are powerful. Yet, when we play and our hands come close to his mouth or give him something small to eat – he measures the pressure he puts in his bite carefully. He will make sure not to hurt you. Instinctively.

Be powerful, yet gentle. It is a strong combination.

I am sure there are many other lessons one can get from animals, not just dogs. Share if you think of one!