What I learned from my dog

By Daniel Chejfec

Do you share your life with a dog? did you ever thought about how much your dog can teach you?

I do. My dog is a 95 lbs Black Lab mix, but he makes friends with Chihuahuas (they obviously weight less than 95 lbs), white shepherds (NOT black) and doesn't care what breed the other dog is, a good butt-sniff and they start playing. But he also makes friends with deer (I wish I had a camera that day) and other assorted creatures (squirrels are definitely out - sorry, even my dog has standards), and even befriends Humans, those most strange among all of God's creatures. I have seen people walking by when I'm sitting at a bench with my dog and look at my dog with suspicion - the first day they see him; by the second time they pet him! When he sees a friend, his tail gives away his happiness and he is ready to play, normally the chase-and-struggle or get-the-stick (not exactly rocket science games...)

And throughout all that he is still a dog, a 95 lbs Black Lab mix. What do I learned from it? other than the obvious and oft-mentioned comments about enjoying life at its fullest, I also learned about identity. If a dog sniffes him and doesn't want to play, his response is clear - he seems to be saying "fine, you don't like who I am, I don't need you". He knows who-and what-he is, and expects people and animals to accept him or reject him for what he is, a 95 lbs Black Lab mix.

I am an Argentinean Jew, the product of a proud millennia old Jewish heritage and of an Argentinean  upbringing - I do weight however more than 95 lbs. I don't go around sniffing butts (that would be frowned upon in a person) but I am easygoing and make friends with relative ease, and my friends are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, black, white, red, male, female, Americans, immigrants, old, young and more. I, too, feel that when somebody doesn't want to accept me for who and what I am, he/she is somebody with whom I'm not interested in pursuing a friendship. Like my dog, I have no illusions - whatever I do, I will always be an Argentinean Jew, (although I wish I could get down to 95 lbs). Since I will always be who and what I am, I have two choices; I can question it and try to present it in a way that I think people might like better so they will accept me, or I can proudly wear my identity on my sleeve. Like my dog, I wear it on my sleeve (well, in his case maybe on the muzzle). I believe that if all of us learn to be just a little more like our dogs, life would be easier - we could be ourselves and do more to improve the world instead of wasting time and energy in pretending to be what we are not...



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