“Hello. My name is Yoda. I am an eleven year old Shih Tzu dog that my person adopted from the Humane Society when I was six years old. My person agreed to help me put together this article and promised to write everything exactly as I said it, otherwise I wouldn’t talk to him. If you are reading this, he did as instructed and we are still talking.
“Let me begin by saying it is not all that easy to teach an old person new tricks. But I will try. Both my person and I agree that he remains a work in process.
“Now, to be fair, I have to admit that my person has assisted me in some ways as well. He has helped me improve my begging skills, has given me stuff to chew on, and helped me acquire a taste for carrots. He tried to get me to eat slower, ‘savor the food,’ he said. Fat chance. Never going to happen. This story, however, is not about me, it is about what I have been able to teach my person, slow learner that he has been.
“My major teaching technique was to lead by example. Some of the things my person needed to learn were relatively easy to teach, such as playing every day and following an exercise routine. I helped him by insisting we walk around three miles a day and by growling at him until he plays tug-a-war or ‘go get your toy and bring it back.’ However activities outside our daily routine proved to be much more difficult for him to learn.
“My person had some deep-seated problems. He wasn’t all that adaptable, had trouble forgiving, couldn’t accept praise, was freakishly impatient, and wanted to live outside the moment. I knew if we could take some major steps in these areas he would go a long way toward living his life with passion–passion like I enjoy every day.
“Now, when I talk about passion I am referring to a strong feeling or emotion. I have such passion about eating supper, meeting friends in the dog park, sniffing every bush and twig in sight, and taking a nap with my neighbor “Bubby.” I let my person know he is helping me with my passions by licking his nose. It may not be that sanitary but he loves it when I do it. It is how I say thank you.
“My person had some passions before I met him like craving ice cream and licorice. He had to give up his passion for licorice because eating too much of it isn’t good for him. For some reason he still thinks ice cream is health food.
“Anyway, here is how I tried to help my person develop and express his passions. I would snuggle close to him and let him rub me behind my ears. There is passion in physical closeness. When he accidently hurts me by stepping on my foot or something, I let go of anger and forgive and forget quickly. He knows he is forgiven because I give his nose a quick lick. It is hard, if not impossible, for him to be passionate when he doesn’t forgive and forget. I have taught him that anger and selfishness are major roadblocks in the way of living passionately. He has learned some patience by waiting for me to sniff every bush around, although my person still has a way to go in this area.
“I have noticed that he is learning to be more adaptable in other areas of his life as well. He is learning to compromise and listen to other points of view before acting. Strangely enough when he is flexible his passion for living grows and is stronger than when he insists on only doing things his way. He has even started to say ‘thank you’ when someone appreciates what he has done. This is a result of watching me snuggle up to people who like to scratch me behind the ears.
“There is one other thing that I would like to….uh, oh, excuse me….Okay, I am back now. I thought I saw a squirrel outside the window. Where was I, oh yes, I wanted to say that I have taught my person to be more spontaneous, to enjoy living in the moment. For example, the other day it was raining like cats and dogs. (That is a joke I like to say every so often.) I wouldn’t let my person take me to the park. We stayed inside. He was depressed for a little while until I showed him there were lots of things we could do in the house. Soon we were wrestling on the floor and then eating treats. I ate a “greenie” and my person had some ice cream. We laughed as he moved from ‘rain frustration’ to happiness.
“Well, that’s enough about my person. Time for a nap.
As Yoda’s loved one there are a few things I would like to add. Yoda has reminded me that we don’t have to do life alone. Passion always involves relationships. He teaches me every day to smell the flowers, examine a rock, be friendly to strangers, and express love to those I know.
Yoda’s passion for life allows him to stop and play with children, sniff another dog, accept petting from a stranger, jump for joy when he sees an old friend or a treat, and fall asleep in the cool grass with a smile on his face. He is showing me how to live passionately.
Yoda taught me the power of caring touch. It is healing. His love of human contact and cuddling was apparent from the first day he was adopted. A gift he continues to give in times of happiness and sadness. Touch by itself is cold but when it is accompanied by the caring of unconditional love, it is powerful.
Yoda’s healing touch, spontaneous love, and excitement in daily living, have made me and others who love him more appreciative and involved in living. He is a gift of passion, this little dog named Yoda.
Written by Yoda
(with a little help from his person and loved one, Hartzell Cobbs)