Spike, our Spoodle, is a very happy dog. By nature and by nurture, his is a life of joy. It may have begun before we met but I suspect not as he was the runt of his litter, the obvious evidence of his already pregnant mother ‘playing away’, shall we say. Amongst his delicately boned, long-nosed, apricot-coloured distinctly poodle siblings, Spike’s sturdy bodied, smooshed-in snout, brindle-coloured, energetic self came tripping and rolling across the Spoodle breeder’s yard towards me, making an instant impact from which there was no going back (to the breeders relief, as his lack of pedigree was just a tad embarrassing!).
And so he came home, nestled in my Mother-in-laws hands, tucked close to her heart, the whole way. And close to our hearts he has remained, for all his 14 years.
Do you ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a pet? Whether they think we are in their world to do their bidding, rather than the other way around? I do, mostly because Spike, now in his almost completely ripened years, is so full of character and sure of his place in our world, that it’s hard to imagine he isn’t orchestrating it exactly as he wants it to be.
So in that spirit and because he is very old and wise, I asked Spike to share his guidelines for a happy life. He graciously agreed, as long as he could do so from his cushion in my office. And here they are (in his words):
Choose the very best thing to do, in any given moment
Stop moving; stand still and ask yourself: What am I in the mood to do right now? For example, do I want to have a sleep or chase a rabbit (real or imagined), look out of a window or patrol the property? If I choose to sleep, then I have to decide whether I would like to lie in my basket or on the grass, burrow into a cushion, a soft chair or nestle in a blanket. Or shall I snuggle up next to Mum, stretch out in a patch of sunshine, wriggle and rub my back on some grass, help Dad dig in the garden or just loll about until something interesting happens? Don’t plan too far ahead in case you miss out on what’s the best thing, right now.
Experience all the joy you can, while you can
There are lots of wonderful things that can happen in a day and I like to enjoy every single one of them while I can, because tomorrow it might be raining, or Mum might be away, or I might be too tired to play. But right now, I wonder what will happen next! Will I finally catch that ginger cat from next door when it sneaks into our glasshouse for a snooze? Will I sniff out a bone, perfectly seasoned after a few months of being buried? Will a treat be forthcoming? Will Mum come home and make a fuss of me?
And speaking of fusses – I welcome everyone who comes to my home as long lost friends because I’m sure they only come to visit me. Especially Grandma and Grandpa who are THE BEST at patting, cuddling and snuggling with me. And did you know that in the winter, my Dad lights the fire? It’s so toasty warm on the floor in front of it that I don’t stop wagging my tail with happiness until I fall asleep. I love going to sleep knowing it’s been a joy filled day and tomorrow’s going to be another one!
Ask for what you need and want, politely
I don’t hesitate to make my needs known. How else will you get what you want? What works for me is: pacing in front of the door when I want to go outside, getting Mum’s attention and then leading her to my food and water bowls when it’s time for them to be filled and my best trick of all is that when she’s been at the computer too long, I tell her it’s time to stop (I have a special noise for this) then walk to her office door, then back again, then go to the door and back to her chair again making the noise all the time until she shuts everything down and comes to hang out with Dad and me instead.
I’m really good at making my wants known too. I run to the drawer where the treats live and bounce up and down (looking cute helps) till I get one. I walk to and fro in front of Mum and Dad carrying my favourite toy until they realise it’s playtime and throw it for me. And best of all, I have perfected the art of placing my head – just so – under visitors hands until they pat me. And they pretty much always do 🙂
If you live in the moment, expect to find joy and ask very nicely for what you need and want, it’s really easy to have a happy life. I recommend you try it!
What guidelines would your Beloved pet add to Spike’s list?