The Four Important Lessons the Dog Taught Our Family

It was a very peaceful and somber moment in a quiet room with an amazing veterinarian. We were saying goodbye to our family dog, Colt. First let us say, our worldview is such we know he’s a dog and not a human. In fact, many in our family were caught off guard by how much sadness we felt saying goodbye to our friend and family member. It wasn’t just Colt causing the emotion, it was all the life our family had experienced alongside this beautiful creature.

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With our amazing veterinarian! Saying goodbye to our old friend!

There are so many memories but they are only meaningful to our family so we won’t bore you with those. But as we reflected on the importance Colt had played in the Pritchard home we became aware of some incredibly important lessons we learned from our dog! We bought the dog so the kids would have a friend to play with – ok we admit, almost like a living toy. What we got was so much more. Here are four incredibly valuable courses taught at Colt University!!!

  • You get what you parent – right from the get go we learned this one. Like many motivated dog owners we decided to take Colt to “Obedience Training” at our local pet store. It was a large class and the instructor was a woman named Sarah. She was a wonderful trainer and immediately took a liking to Colt. But it didn’t take us long to figure out – obedience school wasn’t for Colt! It was for us! What a great lesson for parents. Our kids are the easy ones… we’re the ones who need to learn!
  • If you make a mistake just say you’re sorry – One of Colt’s bad habits had to do with our kitchen trash. For some reason he just couldn’t keep himself from tearing into it when he was left alone. In fact with eleven kids the only time we ever used one of those kid proof cabinet latches was for our kitchen trash and because of our dog! The scene was repeated many times upon arriving home. We’d walk in the front door. You have to walk past our living room to get to the kitchen. By the time we were half way through the living room our black furry friend would be slinking around the corner; his head down and his tail between his legs. By the time we got to him, he would be in total submission, lying on his back, in doggy language saying, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” Oh how much smoother our family relationships would be if we would do the same with each other. We wanted to be mad but all we could do was say, “it’s OK Colt.”
  • When someone is having a bad day just wag your tail – You probably saw this one coming, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include it. How many times would someone come home after disappointing news, a bad game, sick, in trouble, flunking a test, or any number of sad experiences only to walk through the door and be greeted by an excited, tail wagging friend! He wouldn’t say a word (I know… he couldn’t say a word!) he’d just wag his tail. We know there are times we need to be sad with each other. But don’t you love those people that seem to always be upbeat with a smile on their face. Even when we are sad they bring joy and an uplifting spirit to the situation. Colt was the epitome of that. We want to be like that with each other.
  • If they turn you down the first time just keep trying – If you sat down on our couch, chances are Colt would come over to have you scratch his head and if possible coax you into scratching down his back as well. Once you grew tired and stopped, he would leave only to walk around the coffee table and return to see if he could get you to scratch again. If you didn’t he’d leave again and yes, walk around the table and give it another shot. In our families when we ask each other for help, we too often give it only one shot. If the answer is no we go away upset. Why not walk away and give it some time (maybe more than just walking around a coffee table) but then circle back and give it another shot. Sometimes the no is timing, sometimes we just need more clarification, and sometimes we just need to be asked again. But let’s not be so quick to give up on each other.

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We’ll miss our old friend. But we are so grateful for the memories and for the many lessons having him taught us. We shared four of those lessons, certainly there were others. What have been your families experiences been like with pets?