How My Feisty Dog Taught Me Acceptance

                     Patton the Scottish Terrier

                     Patton the Scottish Terrier

 

Not long after returning from Paris, I entered my apartment, excited to rest and unwind after traveling over the weekend.  As I looked across the room, I saw what I feared - the brand new Picasso book I bought on the trip was completely destroyed. My eyes didn't wander long until they found the primary suspect - a Scottish terrier sitting in the corner, looking not the least bit ashamed. My eyes widened, my fists clenched and my throat tightened. This little dog was turning out to be A LOT different than the golden retriever I had growing up. 

 

No, he wasn't interested in pleasing us and yes, he had his own "ideas" about the rules and regulations of the home. Sure, he sat on command when treats were involved, but for the most part, my Scottish terrier did what he wanted, when he wanted. 

 

I like the companionship of dogs and their warm, cuddly nature (cue Meet The Parents "an emotionally shallow animal" scene). However, Patton wanted his space and as such, he'd come over for light petting on his terms. As luck would have it, Patton was more like a cat than a dog. 

 

Just when I was at my wit's end, wondering if Patton really loved me (he didn't slobber me with kisses! How was I to know for sure?) something happened.

 

One day I was feeling particularly sad. Seemingly out of nowhere, all fifteen pounds of Scottish terrier strutted up to my bed. Initially, I thought he'd sit reclusively on the ground with enough distance to feel comfortable. Instead, he jumped up and rested his body gently on my shins. I felt him breathe as he closed his eyes and slept. His body soothed my sadness as I closed my eyes to rest. When I finally woke from my nap, I felt a warmth in my chest and like I had finally gotten the message: he wasn't wagging his tail effusively, but he was showing love and affection his way.

 

Since that day, I've stopped comparing him to other dogs. Instead, I smile when he goes to a corner of the room to get personal space and I laugh when he demonstrates his signature stubbornness. In short, I've stopped trying to make him anything other than what he IS. A powerful reminder to let people (and dogs!) be who they are. 

 

Once I let go, my dog unexpectedly taught me acceptance. Instead of wishing my family and friends act a certain way, I'm learning to breathe and allow them to just BE. For example, instead of wishing my friend texts me back faster, I'll accept she's more of a "get on the phone" type-person. Instead of getting annoyed with travel companions, I'll accept that not everyone likes to get to the airport four hours early like me (thanks, Dad!) Maybe I'll even accept my brother gifting me vanilla scented candles for Christmas...every...single...year. 

 

I'll carry this treasure into my relationships with family, friends, co-workers and strangers alike. Letting everyone be who they are and cultivating acceptance and appreciation for quirks, personalities and differences. The more I let people be who they are, the more I can appreciate every moment of our interactions. I even have a hunch that the more I let go and appreciate those around me, the more I'll accept myself....and that acceptance is the most beautiful kind. 

 

I'm not perfect, but I have my Scottish terrier to thank for teaching me the value of love, acceptance and the right to a little personal space. 

 

 

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Have you ever wished someone or something was different? What helped you let go and appreciate things as they are? Are some situations harder to accept than others? Write in the comments below and feel free to share this post with a friend! 

 

 

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