Wag your tail whenever you’re feeling happy

Sometimes, I feel that I was put together wrong.
Most people go to bed at 10 or 11 p.m., but I’m just getting started. I do some of my best work in the wee hours of the morning.
On the other hand, I don’t mind wasting time sunning or watching a movie at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
That’s probably why one of my favourite poems is Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Portrait of a Neighbor.”
“Before she has her floor swept/Or her dishes done/Any day you’ll find her/A-sunning in the sun!”
Conversely, “She weeds her lazy lettuce/By the light of the moon.”
I know that’s not the proper way to live, but that’s my way.
On the other hand, my best friends “Amber” and “Nina” live by a traditional schedule. They wake up every morning at seven and, after some stretching exercises, are ready for treats.
They each ask for treats politely in their own way. Amber opens the arm of my chair where the organic treats are stored. Nina asks with one little yip.
They both know how to count to three, so after the third treat they’re off for a drink of water or petting from another family member.
They eat their dry food when they smell the chicken roasting at 6 p.m. and are ready to lick the pans for dessert. And at exactly 10 p.m., they take their tooth-brushing “greenies” and settle into bed.
If only I would listen to them, my dogs could teach me an important life lesson–stay on schedule.
I thought about this life lesson when I read the delightful book “It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life Lessons I Learned from Dogs” by John O’Hurley.
O’Hurley, host of NBC’s “The National Dog Show,” is well-known as J. Peterman on Seinfeld. He has had many dogs in his life and describes the lessons he’s learned from each one, beginning with his first dog “Taffy.”
Writes O’Hurley, “Taffy could always tell when I was asking her a question. . . . She would tilt her head slightly as if it allowed her to grasp my dilemma better. Then she’d quietly stare without blinking for just long enough to show that she cared.”
One question O’Hurley asked Taffy when he was five years old was “if I was supposed to be an actor, which I knew I was . . . why wasn’t I picked for a speaking part in the class skit?”
With the help of Taffy, he logically figured out his teacher had “picked the cast with speaking parts from the top reading group while I was still trying to figure out which side of the page to start from.”
This small book has 11 life lessons, including “Every 15 Minutes Is a New Day,” “Never Miss a Nap,” “When One Person Stops Petting You, Move On,” “You’re Only as Big as You Think You Are,” and the best lesson of all, “If You Are Happy and You Know It, Wag Your Tail.”
“People don’t have tails–we have smiles which, when used appropriately, communicate the same goodness in life,” writes O’Hurley.
So if you don’t have a dog now, reminisce about the life lessons earlier dogs taught you. And in the meantime, never forget to wag your tail when you’re happy!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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