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15 things I learned from my dog

When my dog Parker died, he left the world a better place than he found it

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

4 Kiss the ones you love goodbye. The last thing I did with Parker before he went into surgery was to kiss him on the top of his head and tell him I loved him. He kissed me back and went into surgical prep. He made it through surgery on New Year’s Eve. I thought he would be home soon. I was wrong. I rest better knowing that Parker knew I loved him. You never know when you may see someone for the last time.

5 Find a partner. Parker had a happy life in part because he had a significant other in Charlize. They really acted like a married couple. They ate together, they slept together, they played together, they loved together and they loved me together. As a result, Parker’s life – while short – was very fulfilled.

6 Spend time with the ones you love. Parker was attached to me from the moment I walked into my home until the moment I left. He didn’t really care what I did, just that I included him. He sat on my feet when I worked on my computer. He slept on my lap when I watched TV. Whatever I did, Parker did. And he loved it because he loved me. Shouldn’t we all try to dedicate that kind of time to those we love the most?

7 Get your exercise. Over the past two years, I lost 71 pounds. I hired a trainer. I changed my eating habits. I learned to sleep. And Parker needed a lot of exercise, so I never had a day with him in which I didn’t walk at least three miles. Because of Parker, my health is the best it has ever been in my adult life. Walking is very good for you, but it can become a routine. And routines get boring. But by walking all of the time, Parker forced me to …

8 See the world around you. Everyone thinks that you have to travel extensively to see the world. That’s not necessarily true. Parker taught me to explore the world within three miles of my own home. There’s a lot going on just outside your front door. Explore it.

9 Never judge based on appearance only … again. Parker was a mixed-breed dog. People would tell me that he looked imposing. I would laugh to myself when people would go out of their way to avoid Parker, Charlize and me walking together. Why? Because both Parker and Charlize looked like pit bulls. Both dogs, though, were total lovers.

10 Discrimination is discrimination, and it’s wrong no matter what form it takes. I could not live in certain neighborhoods or complexes because of my dogs. People and organizations discriminated against Parker because they thought he looked like a dog that was trained to fight. There was a time in my life that I also believed that pit bulls should be eliminated, but if I had clung to that fear, I would never have had the experience of loving Parker. My time living with him made me think a lot about how people needlessly suffer from discrimination due to color, race, religion or sexual preference. Discrimination, no matter what form it takes, is wrong, and living with Parker (and Charlize) taught me more about that than I would ever be able to learn from reading or watching TV.

Puppy Love
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