Life Lessons from Man's Best Friend
Gyaan from a spaniel to negotiate the challenges of a dog-eat-dog world
I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals," said the Greek philos opher Diogenes when asked why someone had so rudely called him a `hound.' The brilliant cynic, who not only voiced his disdain for cultural conventions and hypocrisy, but actually slept in a pot on the street and performed all natural human functions in public, believed humans would do well to live as simply and honestly as dogs do. It's an idea that now finds the support of Frenchman Gilles Moutounet. Presently a resident of Worli, Moutounet makes his debut in the publishing world with My Dog, My Guru, a book that presents the wisdom of Skottï, an adorable springer spaniel that was a Navjot gift to his daughters, Naïa (13) and Lèa (16).
With the happy energy of a much younger dog, the six-year-old spaniel hops onto Moutounet's lap.The bandhani turban and John Lennon eyeglasses that Skottï sports on the cover of the book are missing today, but on his head is a perfectly round brown spot a `guru's tilak' as Moutounet calls it and he's wearing his best smile, an expression that radiates genuine, heartfelt joy.
`Look at him. You see, dogs are always happy,' says the author whose first chapter begins with whoever has had the privilege of having a dog at home must have, at least once, been jealous of them and their happiness." Here Moutounet shares nine lessons he has picked up from man's best friend:
TAKE A BREAK FROM THE RAT RACE
Dogs have no ability to think about yesterday, to hold on to grudges or to worry about what tomorrow will bring. If you live in the past, you'll always have regrets, things you wish you could do over, do better; if you keep thinking about the future, you're always going to be anxious, always chasing a dream. It doesn't matter how many things you acquire, there will always be something else you want. If you get a car, you'll want a bigger car.Dogs are happy because they live in the now.
SHOW HOW YOU FEEL
Skottï's reactions are never restrained. If you give him a treat or even simply when we get back from work, he expresses his happiness. You'll see his wagging tail or he'll hop about excitedly. Humans, on the other hand, don't like to show their happiness. Happiness is contagious, so why not spread it around. If someone did something that made you happy, why not express gratitude, demonstrate or share your joy.
SPEAK YOUR MIND
I remember when, as a young boy, I had developed a crush on this girl. A friendhas told me that one to be careful one while communicat because, ing with girls he said, means "With girls, Yes No, and No ould means Yes, but Yes iately could also mean Yes and No could also be a definite No." This really confused me. A woof, on the other hand, is a woof.
Whether a dog's begging for a piece of your chicken at the dining table or whether he wants to go for his walk, he makes his meaning amply clear. Even without the ability to spell it out in words, there's no con fusion about what he wants.
Humans, on the other hand, tend to exaggerate or hold back and so, even though they have the gift of language, they fail to express what it is they actually want. But Skottï will ask for something and keep ask ing until he gets it.
RECONNECT WITH NATURE
My wife Ferzin takes Skottï for a walk to Worli Seaface every single day. He spends an hour-and-a-half there. If he misses that walk for any reason, his eyes lose their sparkle. It's the same with humans. We're animals too and that connection with the outdoors will help revive you. It's something I appreciated as a child. I grew up in a country house in Paris and every weekend I'd go exploring the forest nearby with friends. I believe everything is connected and being outdoors helps us to get attuned to the natural vibrations of the universe.
LOVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART
Anyone who has ever had a dog will tell you that they forgive and forget immediately. It doesn't matter how harshly I've yelled at Skottï, he'll just come around and give me a big, slobbery kiss. Dogs are capable of loving even masters who are extremely cruel. I'm not saying you should allow anyone to treat you badly and go back for more, but it would be incredible if we could mirror that sheer capacity to love.
DOGS DON'T DISCRIMINATE
Take your dog to the park and you'll see that he or she is happy to interact with all other dogs, irrespective of their breed, colour or size. You'll never see a dog reluctant to sniff another dog because one is a better runner or taller or shorter than the other. Beagles are happy to mix with spaniels, Labradors are happy to play with terriers. There's no judgment. A dog would never feel small because of his size or the texture of his coat.In fact, even dog owners are forced to abandon their inhibitions when they take their dogs for a walk because the pet just pulls you to another pet and you're forced to interact with that dog's owner.
GIVE THE UNIVERSE TIME
When my wife, Skottï's mummy, steps out, you'll see him wait by the door till she comes home.There's nothing he can do about it.There's no one he can complain to.And so he just waits. As humans we have forgotten how to wait. Traffic signals get us frustrated. We start yelling obscenities if a car cuts across in front of us. And everyone wants things done now, right away.Dogs are more in sync with nature.They make their peace with the natural rhythm of life. We would be much happier if we just stopped trying to rush things and accepted that things will happen at their own time.
DON'T FORGET TO STRETCH
I signed up for yoga classes after observing Skottï's daily stretches. Every time he snaps out of a nap, he'll do a nice, powerful stretch before moving an inch. In our busy daily lives today, we're hunched over our computers for hours and we forget that our muscles need to move. There are yoga poses named after dogs, so why not start with those: try the upward-facing dog pose to strengthen the arms, wrist, chest and spine, or the downwarddog pose which stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves and instantly energises and rejuvenates.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF
Dogs have a sixth sense; they can sense when a natural disaster is about to happen, and you'll even see them bark at suspicious characters. As members of the animal kingdom, humans have this sense too. Our minds are just too loud for us to listen to our instincts. We've all had that uneasy feeling sometimes upon meeting someone, and of course, there's love at first sight that's your intuition at work. All you have to do is pay attention to what it's trying to tell you.
My Dog My Guru by Gilles Moutounet is available on amazon.in
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