The life lesson I learned from my dog.

People mean well.  They really do.  When they advise that what you’re trying to do is “too hard”, they don’t mean to be negative. They’d be horrified to be considered lazy or small minded.  But when we take the easy path we often miss out on wonderful opportunities.  Please don’t be that person.


This week we lost our beloved dog Sunny to cancer.  She was only 6 years old and taking her to the vet and saying goodbye was one of the hardest things we’ve done.  It was necessary; she was in a lot of pain and had lost the use of her back legs.  It’s a kindness that we don’t extend to human beings and the least we could do for the little dog that had given us so much love and devotion.


She wasn’t an easy dog and had probably been abused from the time of her birth until my daughter brought her home to us at the age of 3 months.  We weren’t looking to get another dog, and I had four cats that wouldn’t enjoy having their spoiled existence interrupted by “eww, dog germs”!  But kids being kids, Joy didn’t think of any of that and here we were with an unhappy scrap of dog that spent the first few months of her life cowering under the cupboard.


She was terrified of other dogs, scared of most humans and hated tall men.  All provided a good picture of a traumatised animal that had been systematically abused by the country farmer Joy had bought her from.


As animals do, they often hide their timid souls under an aggressive exterior. And Sunny would take a nip at any stranger that got close.  It required years of training and love to get her to the point where she could meet new people without fear.


But the flip side of this confused little dog was a loving heart.  She didn’t have a lot of friends but those who entered her “pack” were loved devotedly.  She adored my husband Craig and became his doggy soulmate.  They were a well known gang of two, taking long walks in the streets of our country town.


Craig (aka Dr Doolittle) showed her kangaroos, wombats and local birds and was convinced she was as environmentally conscious as he was.  (Until the cats caught a bird and then she muscled in pretty quick smart to steal the prize).  They even shared a Facebook page lol.

She adopted the kids’ partners as part of her pack, and adored Hannah when she lived with us in Australia.  Shawna was considered an extension of Hannah, and Sunny loved her immediately. Even though Hannah has been back in Canada over 6 months now, whenever Sunny heard her voice on skype, her ears would prick up and she’d confusedly go to the front door to check.  Just in case.

But to back up for a moment. When she was still a small puppy, a then friend of mine disapprovingly watched as Sunny (unsuccessfully) lunged at a passerby. We were doing the approved training discipline method as she casually remarked,


“Sunny is always going to be a difficult dog and she’s probably not safe. She really should be put down for her own good”.


Aaaaand, just like that. Ex friend.  Do NOT diss my furry family.


Please note that should you attempt something that appears challenging – you’ll hear this kind of well meaning advice – it’s not as obvious as “give up now, it’s too hard”. It’ll be couched as reasonable and rational and you may well end up doubting yourself. Please don’t.  The best things in life come from hard work, and life changing opportunities could be missed if you listen to those who tell you it’s all “too hard”.


Was it hard to put up with Sunny’s aggressive behaviour at times and all the training that was involved? Of course it was!  But was it worth it?  Absolutely.


I would never trade 6 years of puppy cuddles, wild chases through the garden, piggy grunts as she rolled in the grass, quiet days on the veranda in the sun as she surveyed her doggy kingdom.  And all that unconditional love that never failed us.


But if we’d listened to the “too hard” we would have missed out.


This is especially true in health and fitness.


Fear or laziness or too tight zones of comfort can not only restrict us from growing, they can deprive us of wonderful opportunities.


If it’s “too hard” to get out to exercise on a cold winters night, are you in fact depriving yourself of the feelings of achievement and self confidence that comes with being fit?


If it’s “too hard” to eat nutritious foods that nurture our bodies, are we depriving ourselves of wellness and all the benefits that come with staying healthy?


If it’s “too hard” to leave a toxic friendship, relationship or job, are we in fact depriving ourselves of the opportunity to be treated how we actually deserve to be treated? To take a leap of faith and anticipate that something wonderful is coming?

I’m glad we didn’t listen and I hope that when a challenge comes to you, you won’t listen either.


Love you, miss you Sunny Bunny xo