Wednesday, December 2, 2009



My daughter sent me a wonderful white t-shirt for my birthday. On the front it reads, “Wag More, Bark Less.”

These four little words seem to say it all. It isn’t about our to-do lists and getting everything possible crammed into every day. It isn’t about our cell phones, our laptop, or our BlackBerrys. It is however about prioritizing what truly is important to us and being faithful to these choices no matter what.

Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life) advocates a ‘not-to-do list.’ What a concept! Just as we have to make a conscious decision to be courageous, we must make a similar decision to enjoy this life we have been given no matter the circumstances.

As he said, “There is a price tag on every decision you make in life, even those that seem insignificant. Every time you give a minute of your life to anything, you’re giving part of your life away.” This is a powerful message.

My dogs have taught me to rejoice in the sheer bliss of relaxation and being unapologetically unproductive. Well okay, at least once in a while. Have you noticed how dogs seem to take great pleasure in the simple fact that they are alive?

The best part is that while we are ‘hanging out’ with our animal friends, we don’t have to be clever, talkative, or witty. We just simply have to ‘be.’ Having that permission allows us to relax. They seem to have a sensitive and intuitive ability to sense if we are happy, sad, want to play, or be left alone. With our pets we are able to be ourselves. And they seem to mirror it back to us. Whatever our mood or the circumstances, they have the ability to be more keenly aware than we will ever understand.

These same characteristics and traits often are infinitely reassuring and comforting to patients, providing a place where patients can feel safe to reveal themselves.

I have seen it over and over again. Patients see the dogs and immediately begin talking to them. Who is on the other end of the leash is often unimportant. This is as it should be. For in this time and place of intentional healing, having a friend visit that doesn’t look at them with sympathy, judgment, or requirements is pretty remarkable. With nurses, doctors, therapists, and even family members there is always something needed of them.

Sometimes healing might just begin with putting ‘take a nap’ and ‘snuggle the dog’ at the top of your to-do list.

“A faithful friend is the medicine of life.”Ecclesiastes

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