wisdom from pets

Lessons I Learned From My Dog

September 17, 2023
Lessons I learned from my dog
a.k.a. Eloise Dog-a-Puss Sullivan

Beautiful Ellie, my first and probably my only dog, walked over the Rainbow Bridge last month, still wagging her tail. People who met Ellie would often say that she was “one of the best dogs” they’d ever met. I have to agree. This black, Golden Doodle made friends everywhere she went. And she will be one of my best friends ever, till the day I join her. For those of you who have lost a pet friend, you know that this is one of life’s hard ones. For those of you who haven’t, you’re going to have to trust me. Losing Ellie has been like taking out my heart and getting it run over, repeatedly, by an 18-wheeler.But the lessons I learned from this beautiful dog, are the gifts that makes the pain of losing her worth every teardrop.

Lessons I learned from my dog
My Sweet Girl, Ellie

The First of the Lessons I Learned From My Dog Ellie: Everyone Has Value

When Ellie and I met she was three months old. I was going through a hard time personally. And this was on top of the fact that my oldest had just gone away to school for the first time. I was feeling pretty low. Then Ellie bounded into my life. And I quickly became her favorite person. She loved me, warts and all. She loved me no matter what other people felt about me or said about me. Ellie valued me because I showed her love and I met her needs for food and safety and fun. Because of her responses to me, I felt valued again. And I realized that I had value, all along. We all do. It just took a furry face to remind me.

Dog Life Lessons
Ellie in the Tub At Her Favorite Bath Spot: Save One Soul Retail

The Second of the Lessons I Learned From My Dog Ellie: The Superficial is Just That

When I would come home from work, Bruce would have Ellie standing at the door, waiting for my arrival. He’d say that he really didn’t need to coax her. “She just seems to know,” he’d say, “that you’re on your way.” And Ellie did not care, whether I was tired or sweaty. My makeup or outfit wasn’t quite right, Ellie didn’t mind. All the superficial things that I worry about on the daily mattered not to this wonderful girl. She loved the me inside at the core of my being. Her response helped me to be less worried about these surface things. Like going to Lowe’s without a shower some days. Or a Saturday without makeup. Thanks Ellie.

Lessons from dog
Ellie in Her Favorite Shirt

Dogs Can Teach Us A Lot About Judging Someone’s Character

When I first started dating Bruce my friends asked me a very important question: What does Ellie think of him? This was a serious consideration for me. Ellie could always sniff out a person of good character or the opposite. She was my litmus test, when I wasn’t still the best at judging these things for myself. When she met Bruce, the response was immediate AND positive. I took this as a good sign.

Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dogs know this inherently. They judge people by how they respond to them and how they move and speak. If we paid better attention to these things ourselves, we may avoid some of the heartache and disappointment that comes with misjudging people’s character.

Lessons from Dog
Ellie in Her Other Favorite Shirt

Another Lesson I Learned From My Dog: Keep “Wagging Your Tail” Because It Makes Life Sweeter

Audrey Hepburn said that “Happy girls are the prettiest.” If that is true, Ellie was a goddess. She was happy, wagging her tail, every day of her life. She wagged her tail the day she died. I learned a lot from this happy girl. Life can be a bucket of suck sometimes. You can’t just will yourself to be happy. What you can do, however, is revel in it when you are happy. Let the small, good things exude great joy. Wag your tail when you catch the green light. Wag your tail when the meal turns out well. And wag your tail every time you look into the eyes of someone, or something, that you love.

lessons from a dog

And Finally, What I Learned Is That, In The End, Love is All That Really Matters

Pets are a big commitment and they require a lot of work. Treat them well and they will love you forever. And they do not care how tall you are or how much you weigh. They don’t care about anything other than your heart. And they give you theirs in return. It would be so lovely if more people could act this way – loving with abandon. But in loving and being loved by Ellie I have come to know that, in the end it’s just the love that matters. Thank you, my good girl. Until we meet again.

Thanks for listening, dear friends. Marianne

If you need more to make you smile, please consider: A Love Letter to My Son on His Wedding Day and Stories of Real Retail Customers That Will Make You Smile.


  • Reply
    September 17, 2023 at 7:58 am

    I am so sorry for your loss of Ellie. It is a piece of your heart taken when our pets pass. You gave Ellie the best life she could have. She showed that to you every day. Always remember the memories. The pain doesn’t go away and you never forget but the impact on your life of having her can make you smile. She did her job with lots of love and appreciation. ❤️

    • Reply
      September 17, 2023 at 9:22 am

      Thank you so much. She did make, and continues to make, a most beautiful impact.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2023 at 10:06 am

    We lost our beloved dog Hamilton (aka Hammie) 2 years ago and when he passed over the rainbow bridge, he left a huge hole in our hearts. Your story of what Ellie taught you inspired be to share what Hammie taught us. He was a 5 year old Pit bull rescue when he came into our lives. Hammie loved the outdoors and the freedom to run through the woods in our yard. His adventures led him to our neighbors homes: one who had a Pit Bull and whose owner would hand out free treats, and the other who had a Golden Retriever named Sam. Those two dogs quickly bonded and soon Hammie was invited into his house to meet and greet the cats. Grasshopper fell in love with Hammie and would rub up against his muzzle, which, at first, worried my neighbor. But she soon realized she had nothing to fear. Hammie was ever so gentle with Grasshopper. We had never met these neighbors in the 11 years that we lived here! But it was Hammie who introduced us and we, too, became fast friends. My neighbor told me that she was a little afraid of Hammie at first because he was a Pit Bull, but then her prejudice towards the breed quickly faded as she realized that he was a kind and gentle dog. Most of all, Hammie loved my husband! They were best friends and did everything together. Hammie taught us that looks don’t matter and it’s what’s on the inside of a person that matters most. He, too, could sense that in people. So thank you for sharing the lessons Ellie taught you. I’m truly sorry for your loss. Hammie is gone but he will never be forgotten. Hugs!

    • Reply
      September 17, 2023 at 10:31 am

      It is truly amazing what they are able to teach us. Never really having had a dog before, I had no idea how deep this bond would be. Thank you for sharing your Hammie stories with me. And I am truly sorry for your loss, as well. Many blessings. Marianne

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