The Magic of Discovery

Joy and Happiness - Luna Small

It’s just over three weeks since little Luna joined us, and we can’t believe how easily she has just taken everything in her stride…  Nothing seems to faze her, and she is abundantly curious about each new experience.  “What excitement can I discover here?” seems to be her motto.

She’s deeply fascinated by the numerous bumblebees that frequent the clover flowers in the lawn; having briefly experimented with eating one, she’s now decided that’s possibly a bit too exciting and is contenting herself with sniffing them, and then chasing after them when they fly busily off to the next flower…  The fat woodpigeons who sit, apparently in deep contemplation, on the lawn are also good fun to chase – flapping heavily away at the last minute, only to perch on the wall and look down at her in high dudgeon at being so rudely awakened from their meditative trance.

An early exploration of the pond has fortunately not been repeated – no doubt to the collective relief of the newt population – but everything within the garden and without has been subject to her close sensory scrutiny.  The paths and lanes we walk must smell astonishing to her; from her previous life in the suburbs of a city she is now surrounded by the sights and smells of horse and sheep, pheasant and partridge, hare, rabbit and deer…

And yet… every new experience is treated as a joyful discovery, enthusiastically widening her previous comfort zone of familiarity.

Luna’s Teachings:

  • Try everything once, and take feedback on board; it’s not a good idea to eat bees, and water lilies do not bear the weight of a Lhasa Apso.
  • Enthusiasm is contagious.
  • If outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens, then stepping outside your comfort zone on a frequent and ongoing basis is a recipe for adventure.
  • Miracles are all around you, if you only pay sufficient attention.



Teachings of Dog: No 29 – The Journey is the Destination

I am fascinated by the different approaches that the dogs have to their walks. Theo is excited by everything – and if something excited him on the previous walk, then he will remember and get even more excited as we approach the same place in the walk, obviously hoping that the same pheasant, hare or whatever will leap out again at the same spot (and if it did, he would probably explode with joy). He has a constant air of anticipation – “what excitement will happen next?” seems to be his motto.

Lily is mainly concerned with keeping her eye on us; if we stop for any reason, she will hurry across, jumping up and putting a paw on our leg, gazing up in mute, gentle enquiry with her beautiful black eyes.

Daisy, on the other hand, is a keen student of nature and takes her research seriously. When she finds something worthy of study, it will occupy her entire attention so that she becomes completely deaf to our calls, or to the fact that we are now a considerable distance ahead. Eventually, one of us will be forced to hurry back and encourage her on her way – at which point she will look up at us in amazement that we are not sharing her fascination. She will then dance along the path until, a few yards further along, she comes across the next object worthy of study… To Daisy, the journey truly is the destination.

Daisy’s Teachings:

  • The present moment is all we have – our lives are just a series of present moments. Taking time to be in the moment is a true antidote to stress – we are not worrying about the past, or being anxious about the future, but just being with what is. Enjoy the journey.

The Teachings of Dog: No 26 – What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

From time to time, we allow all three of the canine members of staff to have a sleep-over in our bedroom…  Daisy and Lily like to sleep in the middle of the bed (although I have occasionally woken in the night with Daisy lying across my neck like a scarf) and Theo sleeps in his bed in the corner of the room… or at least he is supposed to.  In practice, he will wait until we are asleep and then climb stealthily onto the bottom of the bed, hoping that we won’t notice.

Daisy is usually the first to awaken (generally before the alarm goes off), and likes to start her day with her morning exercises of upside down rolling, accompanied by tiny growls of pleasure.  If we make the slightest movement to demonstrate that we are awake, however, this will then send Lily and Theo into ecstatic transports of delight, involving much leaping around and general joyousness at our appearance from the realms of sleep.

What are your first thoughts when you awaken in the morning?  The thoughts you choose to have in your head will colour your entire day…. If you start off believing you will have a bad day, then your unconscious mind will obligingly provide you with evidence throughout the day to support this belief – and you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What if, instead, you decide to start your day with enthusiasm, gratitude and curiosity…?

The Teachings of Dog – No 20: “All I want for Christmas is…”

It’s that time of year again… enticing cooking smells drift from the Aga, the postman brings parcels to the door (much barking required from the canine members of staff), friends call in for a visit (more barking required – the dogs do take their jobs very seriously), fairy lights abound in the house and, to Daisy’s complete enchantment, a large tree has once again appeared in the living room.

Daisy absolutely adores the Christmas Tree – she wanders slowly around underneath the lower branches so that the pine needles scratch her back; an expression of bliss on her little face.  Last year’s tree had an abundance of low branches, allowing her to disappear completely underneath and into the realm of The Presents (to our occasional consternation, as we wondered where she was).  Her disappointment when the tree disappeared after Christmas was tempered by her eventual discovery that the two cypress trees at the top of the garden provided a similar effect, with the advantage of year-round accessibility.

This year, however, our tree’s lower branches tend more toward the upright and I was initially worried that with Daisy’s diminutive stature it might prove disappointing.  However, immediately after its installation, Daisy discovered that she could still get the full Christmas Tree effect by executing a close circuit of the trunk.  As far as Daisy is concerned, her Christmas is already complete.

Daisy’s Teachings:

  • Never underestimate the small pleasures in life.
  • If you look hard enough, you can find the joys of Christmas all year round.
  • The simple Christmas presents are often the best.


Joy and Happiness

The Teachings of Dog – No 13: The Art of Giving and Receiving

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me’.  Look what happens with a love like that – it lights the whole sky.”  – Hafiz of Persia 

Lily and her canine colleagues are all masters of the art of unconditional giving – and of receiving. Lily will happily spend long periods of time patiently cleaning Poppy’s eyes, or Theo’s ears – and they, in their turn, will happily let her. As a puppy, when teething, Theo would chew enthusiastically on his mother, Lily’s, ears, while she lay patiently, not seeming to mind the soggy outcome, or the subsequent crispiness of dried, licked fur.

What happens when we give somebody a gift, or an offer of help…  Do we expect something in return?  Are we offended if the person receiving it doesn’t like our gift, or chooses to give it away again to somebody else?  The Aborigines would say, if we have that sort of attachment to a gift, then it is not a gift at all, it is something else.  If it is a true gift then it is given unconditionally; we should not mind at all what the other person chooses to do with it, and certainly have no expectation of receiving anything in exchange.

And when somebody offers us a gift, do we receive it graciously and with gratitude – or do we feel beholden to the giver and consider that we have to reciprocate in some way?  When we accept a gift with genuine gratitude we are already giving something back to the giver – the gift of true appreciation.

Teachings of Dog – No.3

Theo the schnauzer has to be one of the most ebulliently joyful creatures with whom it has been my pleasure to share my life. His sheer boundless enthusiasm and wanton curiosity for just about anything in his universe is a lesson in itself. He’ll be gratefully appreciative of any gift you care to give him (even if you personally wouldn’t consider it a treat – raw potato or spinach accidentally dropped will be happily accepted) and gives in return his abundant happiness and pleasure in your company. He also knows everything there is to know about relaxation and makes the best relaxing noises I’ve ever heard… his favourite place to be is cuddled up on the sofa with as many of his friends (human and canine) as will fit.

Theo’s teachings:

  • Be grateful for everything you receive. Everything.
  • Show your friends how much you appreciate being with them.
  • Learn how to relax…
  • Joy is an attitude of mind – it comes from within.
  • Enthusiasm and curiosity make your world an amazing place to live.