Everyone knows I love dogs. Before guests step through our front door, they wipe their feet on a coco doormat that says in bold letters: “Love me, Love my dog.”


Everyone knows I love dogs. Before guests step through our front door, they wipe their feet on a coco doormat that says in bold letters: “Love me, Love my dog.” I’m so serious about that statement that when I found the mat, I bought an extra one just in case the original becomes shabby.

Amber, who has been with us for almost five years, is a beautiful mixed breed dog who came from the local Caring Hands Humane Society.

Like many mixed breeds, she is smart and has a wonderful personality. She follows the rules. She barks only when she should. She can count to three — the number of treats she gets at any one time.

And she lovingly greets us when we step in the door, especially when she sniffs “carry-out.”

When her sister Nina died suddenly nine months ago, Amber grieved.

At first, Amber would lie by my feet late at night trembling. I would pet her, and we would cry together. But gradually the trembling lessened. And one night, she was calm.

After that, there were nights she trembled for a short time. But for the most part, Amber began living in “the untroubled present.”

“The untroubled present” is a phrase I picked up from the book “Dogs Don’t Bite When a Growl Will Do: What Your Dog Can Teach You about Living a Happy Life” by Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber.

This book is divided into 67 Lessons. In the lesson “Dogs Know When to Let Go,” the authors say, “When something goes wrong, those of us with two legs often love to talk about it and think about it. Somehow we wind up staying in the troubled past, instead of moving on to the untroubled present.”

Letting go of the “troubled past” is one of the things that dogs can teach us about living a happy life, say Weinstein and Barber.

Lesson 1 “Dogs Are Happy” begins with a quote by James Thurber — “Dogs are obsessed with being happy.”

The lesson goes on, “Show me a dog, and I’ll show you a picture of happiness. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone say of a dog, ‘Well, he’s very successful and lives in a beautiful house, but he’s not very happy?’”

One reason dogs are so happy is they aren’t affected by external circumstances the way we are. Little things like the weather don’t affect dogs at all. And they readily adapt to most changes.

Things don’t have to be perfect for dogs to be happy.

“Our lives would be better if we realized that it’s not the circumstances of our lives that make us happy or unhappy,” say the authors.

Our happiness does not depend on whatever “blessings” or “catastrophes” are going on right now, because “happiness is an inner state, not an outer one.”

We all have hard things in our lives. We lose a job, or children move far away. We lose our mothers, or have a misunderstanding with a friend. Dealing with loss is very important.

But when those things come, always remember that happiness is a choice. And learn from your four-legged friends to let go of the “troubled past” as soon as possible and live in the “untroubled present.”

©2011 Marie Snider

Marie Snider is an award-winning health-care writer and syndicated columnist. Write Marie Snider at thisside60@aol.com or visit her Web site at www.visit-snider.com.