When I first saw her, with her little curly black tail and immensely cute floppy brown ears, I knew she was my dog.

Not because she was adorable. That was a given. But because she had this spunky attitude and a strut that said, “look at me! I’m fabulous.”

Her name is Lola and she doesn’t know just how fabulous she really is.

Right now, she’s curled up by my feet and her warm doggy breath is heating my toes.
I’ve only had her for three months but I feel like I’ve known her a lifetime. In that time I have seen her grow from a small, timid puppy, into a boisterous, lovely, protective, perfect dog. Over the¬†months, I’ve taught her how to sit, to walk on a leash, and to be house-trained.

But much more than what she’s learned from me, I can’t help but reflect on what I’ve learned from her.
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1. Who Cares Where the Tail Came From?

The details of Lola’s puppyhood are a mystery. From what I hear she was found wandering the streets of Fort Lauderdale. She was then picked up by a lady who helped rescue dogs, but Lola needed much more attention than the lady was able to give. Next, a young high schooler adopted Lola, he wanted to give her as a gift to his girlfriend. Unfortunately, these young lovers did not understand the complexities of raising a puppy and so, poor Lola, was abandoned yet again.

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No one really knows what breed she is. Some say Daschund, some say Jack Russell, some say Chihuahua, but her breed remains unknown. And where did that curly tail come from? A pug?

But Lola has taught me: who cares where the tail came from?

Why are we so caught up in breeds? Races? Differences?

The truth is, she’s a loveable, ball of energy. And I wouldn’t care if she were a Great Dane or a Yorkie, she is a great dog and that’s all that matters.

2. Stop and Smell the Roses…or Pee

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I never realized how much walking really does soothe the soul. And who knew it would take a tiny, crazy dog to get me out there in nature? Every morning, just before the sun comes up, I feel a little hot water bottle moving up from my toes up to my face. Covering me in sloppy kisses, she wakes me up for her morning walk.

And on this morning walk we stop at every block so Lola can stop and smell the pee. Now, while pee is not my fort√©, all Lola’s stopping has encouraged me to stop, breathe,
look at my surroundings and just enjoy every day as something new.

3. Patience is a Virtue

Oh patience.

Lola has chewed, peed, pooped, thrown up on, and eaten anything that was ever remotely important to me. She chases (and tries to kill) ducks, she escapes and she runs away. She gets into compost heaps and rolls around in duck poop. She barks at the walls, she eats electrical chords, and is just a general menace.

We call her the terrier-ist.

Watch out! The terrierist has struck again!

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But dealing with such a neurotic pup has taught me patience. I’m not a very patient person, and most of the time I blow up at the littlest thing, but your heart can’t help but melt when you see those big brown eyes looking up at you. And she is a puppy so what does she know? So I thank her for teaching me to be patient, with her and with the world.

4. Material Possessions are Great (for Chewing), But Do They Define You?

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Five expensive Victoria Secret bras and underwear (only the good ones), my wedding shoes, my Juicy Couture eye glasses, and anything she can get her little paws and jaws on, have been destroyed!

I would cry if I could just stop the fumes from coming out of my ears.

But possessions don’t define you and one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is that things – no matter how pretty they are – are just things at the end of the day.

You can’t take them with you when you leave this world. And yes, I remind myself that every time Lola destroys yet another pair of my heels.

5. If You Fall Down, Just Get Right Back Up and Act Like Nothing Happened

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The number of times I have seen Lola fall off the couch, jump and land on her head, slip and land on her chin, or fall while jumping from couch to couch…well, it’s just too many times to count.

Any every time, with a cheesy grin on her face, she gets up and keeps that tail wagging. I think we can all learn from that! Brush it off and keep going with your life. Things will work out fine. If you fall just remember you can always get up and keep going like nothing happened.

6. Everything is Better When You Have Someone to Snuggle With

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Lola is my snuggle hound.

I don’t even remember what it’s was like to not have my little Banana Leaf draped across my feet. We call her Banana Leaf because her ears look like banana leaves and she also likes to eat and tear banana leaves from the tree.

Her little heartbeat is always reassuring against my feet.

I love her with all my heart.

And I always will.

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Thank you Lola, for teaching me so much about myself.

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