What we can learn from dogs includes so many things: to live in the moment, to sleep when we are tired, to forgive and move on. Another thing we can do is to learn how to play again. Life right now is really serious, and sometimes just taking some time out, helps us to enjoy the simple things in life.
Not many good things can be said of Coronavirus. But one that is gradually happening, is that people are beginning to realise that the simple things in life are best. People will appreciate feet to walk around open spaces once lockdowns are lifted. Andrew Matthews once wrote that the person sniffing next to you on the plane – is not so important, if there’s a decompression and emergency landing.
So here in the spirit of dog, is the ultimate reading list to help you appreciate what we can learn from dogs. Go for a walk with your pooch, make a cup of tea (and get a biscuit ready), and let your wise friends sleep on the couch or at your feet, while you wise up on what they know, and we don’t:
Life Wisdom from Dogs
- Canine Confidential is a book on why dogs do what they do. Marc Bekoff is the world’s expert on animal emotions and has been reviewed as ‘incapable of writing a boring paragraph’. Why do dogs wag their tails, toll in stinky spots, play tug-of-war with other dogs and show their bellies? Why are some dogs shy and others bold? What is going on in their furry heads? Eating grass is not always to trigger vomiting, and you can often hug dogs (but on their terms). A strong animal welfare advocate, he writes why positive training is the only way (never try to dominate or shame them) and make your shared lives happy.
- Life Lessons from a Dachshund offers wisdom from a very sage sausage dog. Dhillon has bags of personality and is not afraid to learn to adapt to the modern world. In this hilarious guide, he imparts his wisdom: from how to handle yourself in an argument to surviving in the big city.
- Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home is the heartwarming true story of a dog, which a Swedish racing team met, while trekking through the South American country of Ecuador. When you are racing over 400 miles through jungles and mountains, the last thing you need is a street dog tagging along. But that’s what happened to Mikael Lindnord, when he threw a scruffy mongrel a meatball, one afternoon. Try as they might, they could not lose him (which they tried, for his own safety). But Arthur followed them across rivers and battling through some of the toughest terrain on the planet, until he crossed the finish line with his newfound friends. The story has an amazing ending: Arthur now lives with his new family in Sweden, where his favourite pastime is rolling in the snow!
Max the Miracle Dog is the heart-warming tale of a life-saving friendship. A traumatic car accident changed Kerry’s life forever. Suffering from severe neck and back injuries, he was unemployed and housebound, struggling with depression and even thoughts of suicide. He went from cycling over 600 miles a month, to becoming a prisoner in his own home. With hope all lost, his wife encouraged him on a short walk to the local shops, where in the face of pain and panic, he met an adorable yard dog named Max. As the spaniel peered through the railings with his soulful brown eyes, this chance encounter changed both their lives. Kerry found comfort and Max found someone to care for him.
Spiritual Wisdom from Dogs
- The Dharma of Dogs shares the reflections of Buddhist writers and other teachers who have a source of deep truth and practical wisdom, beneath the furry surface of our four-legged friends. Includes insights into the life lessons our dogs make available to us. Writers explore themes like unconditional love, connecting with nature, and facing our fears.
- My Dog, My Buddha is by an expert in canine psychology who shows how to truly understand dog behaviour. She knows that our dogs look to use for cues, guidance and directives, and this book offers 100 life lessons to help build a better relationship. You can then manage conversation from a calm and centered place. You’ll be hooked by the contents: ground yourself, the power of a good walk, respect personal space, the power of a good stretch and naps are not just for cats!
- Pawverbs for a Dog Lover’s Heart offers more wisdom from dogs. God gave us the animal kingdom to point us to Him, who is always there and loves unconditionally. Your dog doesn’t ask you to be anyone, other than yourself. When you’re with dogs, you don’t have to worry about what you say or what you look like. All your canine friend wants is love, food and belly rubs. This beautiful book features photographs and principles from the book of Proverbs.
- Upward Dog is a wonderful book (ask in local stores, it appears to only be sold as used copies or on Kindle). Yoga teacher Edward Vilga thought he knew everything, but although he could stand on his head and fold himself into a pretzel, his brown dog Bella taught him more about the meaning of life, than any guru in a mountain far away. So with a wag of her tail, here she presents her lessons of life: including being overjoyed at the slightest gift, and sleeping the sleep of the righteous!
- Guardians of Being is a collaboration of cartoonist Patrick McDonnell and spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle. Together they offer a heartwarming collection of charming drawings, to convey a profound love of nature, animals, humans and all creatures. In a nutshell, to live in the now and just be.
Wisdom from Dog Walks!
- How to Walk a Dog is the story of how Mike’s rescue dog become a part of the local community (both animal and human). Written with wit and wisdom, this is the story that anyone with a dog friend will relate to. Illustrated with drawings from cartoonist Sharon Murdoch.
- Walking Wisdom is the story of a man whose family dogs taught him about curiosity, wisdom and passion. He wanted to pass this wisdom on to his own child, just like his father did to him. The difference is that this book is by Gotham Chopra, son of the esteemed spiritual author and doctor Deepak Chopra, who grew up exposed to deep reservoirs of knowledge from both human and dog. A unique and lovely read.
- Walking with Peety is the heartwarming true story of how one man’s life was saved by adopting a dog. Eric O’Grey was 150 pounds overweight, depressed and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts, the onset of serious diabetes prompted him to see a new doctor, who surprisingly prescribed adopting a shelter dog. So in came Peety, who was also overweight, middle-aged and like Eric, had seen better days. So the two adopted each other, and began an incredible journey. Over the next year of walks, play and good food, Eric lost all his excess weight, as did Peety. As a result, Eric reversed his type-2 diabetes, got off all medication, and married his high school sweetheart. And forms of a bond of unconditional love, that forever changed both their lives.
Dog Wisdom for Children
My Dog is the Best is a wonderful story for young children, teaching the patience and friendship of dogs. The young child in the book has an overactive imagination, and constantly tells all his friends about how his dog is better than all the others, and all the things he can do. In reality, his dog is likely the laziest dog in the world. But no worry, as he and the boy have a special bond that exists between child and creature.
Wisdom from Old & Sick Dogs
- The Wisdom of Old Dogs is packed with uplifting stories, advice and science, on how dogs can be a source of wisdom, comfort and love in their old age. A perfect gift.
- The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer is a heartrending story, but packed with wisdom. Again it’s mostly out of print here, but you can find used copies (the title links to the author’s site, where animal shelters can buy in bulk, for fundraising). The book tells the story of a tough lawyer’s two dogs. One gets seriously ill and he goes on a mission to try to help him, but he dies. And then unbelievably, his second dog (the brother) also gets seriously ill. This time, the author learns lessons from the first dog’s death, on how to ‘accept the process’ rather than scurrying around trying to find cures. After their deaths, he contacted a (genuine) animal communicator, who relayed the lessons they wanted him to share.
A Lovely Book by a London Illustrator
Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog is a lovely guide by London illustrator Emma Block, showing how dogs can teach us many woofs of wisdom on friendship, romance, work and self-care. Find 100 essential lessons, with gorgeous images from this talented artist.