The old adage that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ gets completely turned around on us when you consider the life philosophy of a pooch. In fact, my grown but still puppy-like Australian Shepherd never fails to remind me how much we’ve both benefited from her energetic spirit and how it has affected my own well-being.

For instance, my electronic alarm clock has been replaced by a cold nose and warm heart that rouse me from slumber to visit the great outdoors at 7:00 a.m. each morning with unfaltering regularity. Now, this might not seem like much but, believe me, I would otherwise drift right back into z-land were it not for her insistence. After all, being a freelance writer and editor working from home for most of my adult life, I could always indulge in the classic, ‘I don’t wanna go to school today’ excuse to lay beneath the covers longer. Fortunately for my pup, she’s immune to such pouts and she doesn’t come equipped with a snooze button. Neither does her bladder.

Fortunately for me, however, she allows me to get my work done during the day. In fact, right after a morning cup of tea for me, and a slosh in the water bowl for her, I actually announce that it’s time to go to work. That’s her cue to select a chew toy and toddle down the hall after to me to my office. However, there comes a point in the afternoon when I’m asked to take a cue from her: the leash dangling from her mouth clearly says, “It’s a nice day. Get your walking shoes on.”

There are other daily highlights that we both look forward to and learn from. Obedience and agility training provides an opportunity to develop honest communication and mutual trust. It teaches the life lesson that if you want to win the prize, then do the work to get there, whether it’s learning to sit and stay or to jump through a hoop. And, sometimes, just the sense of accomplishment of a job well done is reward enough, even if liver treats are available. Most importantly, never take your eye off the ball.

What else can you learn from your dog (or mine, if you don’t have one of your own)? Perhaps it’s this: live simply, but mindfully. While your busy juggling work, family, home, finances and…oh, yeah…making time for yourself, remember to keep your eye on the ball, whether your goal is to shed a few extra pounds, build muscle, or increase your energy and stamina.

See what you can take away from the following ‘tips’ offered by Arden Moore, author of 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Dog (Storey Books 2000), who no doubt channeled these life-affirming guidelines from a canine guru…

  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • If you want what lies buried, dig until you
    find it.
  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag
    your entire body.
  • When it’s in your best interest, practice
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a
  • Take naps and stretch before rising.
Author's Bio: 

Karyn Siegel-Maier, owner of The Herbal Muse Press and founder of, is a freelance writer specializing in botanical therapies. She has written for many magazines, including Let's Live, Natural Living Today, Real Woman, The Herb Quarterly, Your Health, American Fitness, Mother Earth News, Delicious!, Better Nutrition, Natural Pharmacy and several web sites. She is also the author of The Naturally Clean Home (1st and 2nd editions, 1999 and 2008), 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Baby (2000) and Happy Baby, Happy You (2008). She has been the subject of numerous interviews with national magazines and newspapers and has been a guest on several radio shows, such as Gary Null's Natural Living and The Deborah Ray Show.

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