Beloved dog teaches owner value of forgiveness, forgetting, friendship

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By Kathryn Jacewicz, Staff writer

Dogs can teach humans more things than we can ever teach them. Teaching your dog how to sit, lie down, roll over and shake does not even compare to the lessons they unknowingly teach us.

One of the most important lessons dogs teach their owners—and quite possibly the most overlooked—is forgiveness. While everyone should practice forgiveness, it’s an act that does not always come easily.

As humans, we play victims well. If someone hurts us, holding a grudge does is very easy to do, although it does not make the pain go away or make one feel any better.

Forgiving others not only causes inner peace but also can mend friendships and relationships of all kinds. It is oftentimes difficult to do, but something that comes naturally to our four-legged friends.

How many times has your dog chewed up your favorite shoe or taken a chunk out of the sofa? After bringing my puppy home two years ago, not a single flip-flop made it out unscathed during her first summer in my home. Both corners of my desk have a few pieces missing, and the hanging vertical blinds that hung in the living room let a little more light shine through the teeth marks left along the bottom.

While dogs can do things that make you angry and you may yell and say things you don’t really mean, a dog will still want to be your friend and loyal companion after the anger subsides.

A dog doesn’t care that you called him/her a bad name or that you put him/her in a cage for the night.

A dog will still be just as excited the minute you walk in the door. A dog will still lick your face, follow you around the house and beg you to play fetch no matter how angry you were.

A dog’s philosophy is simple—forgive and forget. There are more important things in life to spend time on than carrying around negativity and hostility, and dogs seem to realize this much better than humans.

The Mayo Clinic even says letting go of these feelings may not only help improve one’s mental state but also one’s physical state. The Clinic says by practicing forgiveness, one can: lower blood pressure, reduce stress, lower heart rate and reduce chronic pain.

Think about the stresses in your life. Could any of them be eliminated by the act of forgiveness?

My maltipoo Goldilocks has definitely helped me learn valuable life lessons in the short few years I’ve had her. She’s taught me responsibility. She’s taught me selflessness. But most of all, she’s taught me that no wrongdoing is unworthy of forgiveness.

That puts the sit, stay and high-five I taught her to shame.