June 11, 2024

“Be Yourself…but Be Adaptable”: Another Lesson from a Shelter Dog who Became Queen.

{*Did you know you can write on Elephant? Here’s how—big changes: How to Write & Make Money or at least Be of Benefit on Elephant. ~ Waylon}
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The following article is an excerpt from my book, which will be available soon: Pawsitive Perspectives: Life Lessons from the Shelter Dog Who Became Queen.

Feedback from the Elephant Journal community regarding my article, “Unleash your Joy”—& 9 Other Lessons from a Shelter Dog Who Became Queen” inspired me to turn that one article into a manuscript of 40 lessons from my dog Ella.

Ella has taught me, her “Mom,” about being present, living life to the fullest, and loving unconditionally, among other things. Through this book, I will share these lessons with you—but from Ella’s perspective, because I’m certain she wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope you find Ella’s thoughts on life to be as useful as I do, and are entertained by her antics. Perhaps Ella’s life story can make the world a more joyful place and remind us of the important role our pets play in our lives.

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Be Yourself Without Apology…but Be Adaptable

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We’re all unique and special and don’t need to modify who we are just to make others comfortable. Emerson’s words are ones I certainly lived by, as we all should. I knew exactly who I was—and no one was going to change me.

I didn’t let anyone tell me who I should be. People might have seen me as just a dog, but I had every right to sit in chairs, stay in fancy hotels, and go on adventures.

I loved people and spent more of my time with them than with other dogs.

Never let anyone, or society’s expectations, stop you from becoming or being who you are—your true self. Know what you value and let those values guide you.

When something was important to me, I didn’t budge. I protected my family, ate all the food I wanted, and spent my time walking, hiking, and running. I didn’t bother with the things that didn’t bring me joy, like playing fetch or wrestling with other dogs. Maybe, as a dog, some people expected me to like those things, but they weren’t my jam.

On the other hand, you have to accept that change is inevitable, and be flexible on certain things. We have to be able to adapt and go with the flow of life, or else we get stuck. I always disliked baths, being brushed, and going to the vet, but I knew those weren’t worth fighting against. I accepted that those weren’t so bad and were ultimately good for me.

There were plenty of times in my life when I had to adapt to new circumstances. I was eight years old the year Mom added two kittens, the boyfriend who would become my dad, and another dog to our family—all within a year! Even though I was no longer the sole focus of Mom’s attention, I knew having an expanded family was ultimately a good thing, and it was.

I adapted again when we moved to our new house in the mountains after I had spent most of my life in the suburbs. With more space to explore, more smells to check out, and wildlife all around, it was stimulating to be in this new place.

When I started going to physical therapy for my expected degenerative myelopathy, I was fairly easygoing about it. There were certain things I wouldn’t stand for, like lying on my side on command. I was also a bit sneaky about my time on the water treadmill—occasionally I would put my back feet on the sides that weren’t moving to take a break. This would work briefly until Mom noticed and the therapist would make me start walking again.

Even with all of these adaptations, I remained who I was at the core. I knew the things that were important to me and didn’t waiver when it came to those. I didn’t always do what I was told, and some people might have labeled me a bad dog, but Mom appreciated my tenacity and independent spirit. She defended me to those who judged me and loved me exactly as I was.

If someone wants to change you, they’re not the right person for you. Always remember to be yourself, even if it ruffles a few feathers.

When Mom went through yoga teacher training, she read the Bhagavad Gita, and there’s a line that sums this up well: “It’s better to follow our own path, though done with mistakes, than to follow another’s perfectly.”

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*If you’d like to support the independent publication of Carrie’s book, and be among the first to know when it’s released, please check out her website.

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