In an increasingly digital world where it often feels like we're actually not connecting, adding to the challenges like financial restraints, demanding work schedules and conflicting educational objectives can often make it difficult to find the time and energy to continue developing our personal relationships.
Time to connect is very important to me. Although around this time of year, sometimes that slight feeling of panic washes over me as I wonder if I've planned, booked or scheduled enough travel activities for the summer, amazingly enough, owning a dog has helped us by circumstance, to slow down and disconnect from crazy schedules instead of each other. More than I had ever imagined, having a dog as part of our family has given us so many beautiful moments together.
Here are 5 ways our dog has given us opportunities to slow down and connect (although owning a dog is not required to do any of these):
1) Observing the little creatures around us. So often our dog would run to the door and bark at a squirrel or a bird that is in our backyard. Although we all get a good laugh to see our dog become overprotective of our family against any critter outside, often it has made us actually stop and look outside and see what is really just at our doorstep...right under our noses.
2) Going for a walk. Although we may not be very diligent (especially in snow or rain weather) with our daily walks, we try to highlight it's importance to our daily routine. We strive to incorporate physical activity in our daily lives, even if it's just for 10 minutes, to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This brief time gives us a little break, a reprieve from our daily schedule to just collect our thoughts at the end of the day.
3) Running free. When we visit our local leash-free dog park, it's amazing the things we discover in our neighbourhood on our way there. Running free without care at the park is just enough to invigorate us and when we breathe that fresh air, the oxygen clears our minds, de-stresses us so we can be open to listen and converse with each other, without anxiety or pent up emotions (and gets our creative juices flowing).
4) Learning new tricks. I often say the best way to learn is to teach. It forces you to see from another person's perspective (or in this case, a little animal) what facts are important to know, how to communicate those facts, and patience with teaching and explanation. Having a dog has given us compassion, not just for our pup who is behaving more and more like a well-mannered dog, but for us as humans, learning to behave and treat each other with kindness and respect. We all have our own story.
5) Unconditional love. No matter what kind of day we've had, our pup is there by our side. No matter how long we've been out doing our own activities without our dog, whenever we get home, our pup is there patiently waiting without judgement or anger...just waiting to give all the kisses and attention in the world, because we're family. We can all learn from this pup.
As we plan for the summer season that will arrive in just a few short months, this time, I'm less inclined to worry too much about scheduling activities. We'll still have plenty of summer memories visiting friends and family, cottage activities and BBQ's...and now we'll also have memories of spending lazy days with our pup, just observing the little things around us...and enjoying our quiet moments together.