Being the Person my Dogs Think I am

Chloe and Molly after a good game of "gotcha" in the office


Here we are in 2013. I love the meme that says by this time, people in the 1950s and 60s thought we would all have flying cars, but all we have is blankets with sleeves!

The one thing that never changes is our obsession with resolutions. Many of us mark each New Year with the resolution to be healthier, to safe guard our finances better, pay off credit card debt…things we should be thinking about throughout the year anyway.

Still, the New Year gives us an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start over.

I typically don’t make resolutions; I have goals for myself that I revisit several times a year. This year, I had to write a couple of resolution articles for my work.

One of them had to do with making resolutions for our pets. One of the things I started doing a few weeks ago was to quit trying to work through my dog’s morning play time, which can get quite loud and distracting.

A few weeks back, instead of putting mental earplugs in, I stopped my typing when the howling, growling and barking started. I got up, went over to the play area, picked up a toy and joined in the fun.

Afterward, instead of frustrated by the ruckus, I felt like I had a fun break. I was more relaxed and was ready to get back at my own work when the dogs were ready to settle in for a nap.

Sometimes, we just have to be reminded to have a little fun.

Last week, I came across an excellent blog post by a writing colleague, Jen Singer, Life Lessons from the Newtown Obituaries. The post points out that adults are typically remembered in their obituaries by their accomplishments, “She volunteered for the Springfield Animal Shelter.”

Children’s obituaries tell us about who they were. “Emilie could always be found with her markers, colored pens and paper, because as she put it, ‘I have so many ideas of things to draw and it is hard to remember them all.”

On the same day a “Pay it Forward” meme was going around Facebook encouraging people to do random acts of kindness by sending unexpected gifts to 5 friends sometime this year, my husband came home and told me about a friend who had attended a wake the night before.

At the “wake,” which was set up as a party, friends were encouraged to gather, drink and eat a buffet dinner, as the invitation put it, “All on the Dead Guy.” My husband said, “That’s how he wanted to be remembered, the one who threw the last party.”

I’m glad my dogs reminded me once again several weeks ago to be the person whose obituary might read, “was always up for a good game of fetch with her dogs, even if it meant putting off a deadline for a couple of hours.”

I participated in the Pay it Forward game on Facebook. I’ve resolved to send at least 5 of my friends a random gift or card sometime this year. I want to pay for someone’s coffee who is behind me in line, thank a veteran for his/her service and maybe drop work a little more often to do something I’ve never tried.

My only real resolution this year is to, in Jen’s words, “live so that your obituary reads less like a résumé and more like a tribute to someone who will be dearly missed,” in other words, to be the person my dogs think I am.

What is your main resolution?   


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16 Responses

  1. Alisa Bowman says:

    This was good for me to read today. I got mad at one of my dogs today because she kept whining to go out while I was trying to write. I guess it was displaced anger–I was really mad at the husband for not letting her out when she obviously needed to go. But I took it out on her, and I feel terrible about it. I am trying to disconnect a lot more. It’s a great goal.

  2. Elaine says:

    To make every moment count.

    I think your point about obituaries is absolutely right. Those achievements are nice and worth working for if you’re doing something you love but it’s the person you are and the way you affect other people’s lives that is your true legacy. My husband died suddenly in September. He was very well known and respected and he had accomplished a lot but what hundreds of people mentioned to me at his wake was how much he loved his family,his incredible sense of humor and how willing he was to give a hand up to someone else and help in any way he could. People may applaud accomplishments but what they remember is the personal.

    • Kerri says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Elaine, but you are right. My dad had a lot of friends he worked with on the railroad. I don’t remember a lot about the days after his death so long ago, but what I remember is the people coming to the house and the absolutely packed crowd at the funeral home. It was literally standing room only. My brother had a lot of issues with PTSD and alcoholism, making it hard for him to stay in one place long, but the thing that stands out from his memorial service is someone coming up to me who hadn’t seen my brother in 30 years and telling me after all of that time he still remembered what a special person he was. A nurse who had seen my brother at the VA also told me that of all the patients she sees weekly, he stood out to her because of his wit and good personality. Those are the kinds of things I think we should all strive to have people say about us after we’re gone.

  3. merr says:

    Dogs truly bring us into “real-time” – don’t they? It sounds like you did a loving thing for both you and them!

  4. I prefer to change the phrase from “the person my dogs think I am” to “the person my dogs KNOW I am.” They know us better than anyone, and they know what we NEED, including a little playtime.

  5. Heather L. says:

    This is a super good idea. Last night at yoga, our instructor talked about January being the month where we hear “you’re not good enough” from all sides. You’re not skinny enough, you’re not rich enough, you’re not….. you fill in the blank. And by February you say, “Whatever.I guess I’m not good enough.”

    I did not participate in that specific “pay it forward” Facebook post but plan to do it in other ways. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Kerri says:

      January is such a depressing month for so many reasons. I think someone who is depressed already might take a defeatest attitude, surely, by February. I’ve always kind of looked at the New Year and January as my time to hit “replay” and start all over. I guess while I don’t do formal resolutions, it is when I make a business plan and buy any self help books I may have been looking at.

  6. Alexandra says:

    This is a great post. My daughter had serious health problems last year. It made her decide to live each day as fully as possible, which isn’t really related to resolutions, but does fit in with your idea of living differently and getting more out of it, a whole other way of approaching life.

    • Kerri says:

      Serious health issues always make us re-evaluate our lives, I think. I can remember how loving my mom and dad were right after he had a serious heart attack, the first time I ever saw them walk and hold hands. I had a serious stomach issue a few years back and I can remember appreciating so fully how healthy and strong I felt after I recovered from surgery. I think for some people, though, it makes them think there is something they’re missing and they then leave their regular lives and engage in risky, unpredictable behavior. I’m glad your daughter took the positive approach, Alexandra. Hazzah!

  7. Nanci says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! Have reposted to my FB page!!!

  8. Sheryl says:

    I stopped making resolutions when I started making the same ones each year. But I absolutely love what you wrote in this post. That’s enough to remind me how to live life each day. Thank you.