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Have Dog Will Travel

BY Carlyn Montes De Oca TIMEJuly 19, 2022 PRINT

Six months ago I brought my rescue dog Grace along to a small gathering with some good friends and their dogs. When my friend Tracy stepped away from her bean burrito, Grace gingerly pulled it off the table and ate it.

A Journey of Grace

When she first came to live with us Grace was weary of humans and misery was written all over her beautiful face. I hoped she could let go of the past with consistent doses of love, a steady routine, and patience. And she did. Most people who see her now often comment that they can’t believe this happy dog is the same one that was once so skittish. Seeing Grace happy makes my heart sing. Yet I want more for her than this. I want Grace to reach her fullest potential.

Dogs give their human friends priceless gifts–unconditional love, oodles of comfort, and can even boost our wellbeing. But I also believe that animals are here for their own purposes and to live their fullest lives. Grace seems to get the most out of her life from exploring sights, sounds, and smells on our daily hikes, playing with her friends at the dog park, and enjoying quality time with us.

But just like many things, there is the potential for more. For her confidence to continue growing, I expose Grace to new places, have her meet as many people and animals as possible, and introduce her to unique situations-even when she’s not quite perfect and eats burritos that don’t belong to her.

About that burrito….we were all dog lover’s at the party so we had a great laugh as we watched Grace happily eat it. Still, for the next few months, Ken and I worked on honing Grace’s manners. Last weekend, I took her to another human and dog get together. This time, she didn’t steal anyone’s food, though she did get into a small compost bin. Alas. Live and learn. Once she realized it was off limits, Grace left the bin alone and spent most of the party sleeping next to my chair. I cannot imagine her being this calm a year ago when every sound and sudden movement caused her to leap.

The Amazing Animal-Human Connection

Watching Grace embrace life and leave the past behind inspires me to ask myself questions such as-What are my self-limiting beliefs? How can I move passed them? What behaviors would I like to shift for the better? What fears do I entertain that keep me from reaching my fullest potential? Sometimes it’s fun to laze around and watch life from the couch and binge on Netflix. But our human experience is too brief to let fear be what keep us from living our best lives.

Lately, Ken and I have been brainstorming about what we want to do to enrich our lives. We’ve settled on taking an extended road trip to explore Canada. Of course, Grace will come with us to see the fresh sights, meet some friendly Canadians, and share lots of stellar peak experiences on the way. And then we’ll do it all again the following year in Mexico!

This article was originally published on animalhumanhealth.com

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Carlyn Montes De Oca is an award-winning author, blogger, and animal-human health expert. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is certified in plant-based Nutrition by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies at Cornell University. A passionate animal advocate, Carlyn has combined her love for health and wellness with her love for animals in her award-winning book, Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse and in follow up books for dog and cat lovers - Paws for the Good Stuff. See her powerful TEDx talk entitled - The Life-Changing Power of the Animal-Human Health Connection. To learn more about Carlyn visit www.AnimalHumanHealth.com.
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