I’m pretty sure my dog has no concept of time. Well, maybe a tiny, tiny concept of time. He doesn’t whimper as if he’ll never see me again when I leave now and he used to. So I think some sort of “She’ll come back” has emerged in his little brain, but that’s about it. For the most part, there is no linear sequence for him as there is for us.
Because of this, he is immune to the number one thing that prevents us humans from being able to live in the moment: the focus on past and future. For him there is no past and there is no future. He doesn’t worry about what happened or what will happen next. He doesn’t fear what’s coming up the pike. He doesn’t sit around thinking about how his life has gone and whether or not that meets his expectations. He doesn’t wonder what he might be like if he were a bulldog rather than a poodle. None of that exists to him.
For him, if something good is going on, it’s the best thing ever! Seriously- ever! And if something bad is going on, again, it’s the worst thing ever. But the up side of that? Guess how long he’s going to be bothered about it? For a few milli seconds.
If he gets reprimanded with a stern “No!” and a return to his pen for tearing something up or making a mess, it is, as I said, the worst thing that has ever happened- for about 2 seconds. Then something smells interesting or he spots the toy sitting over there and goes to play with it or just snuggles up on that smelly t-shirt and all is right with the world again. He doesn’t berate himself for he what he did wrong, he doesn’t conclud that he’s an idiot for making a mistake, he doesn’t even feel guilty- he just moves on with his life, free of any of the negative emotions that tend to plague us humans.
For him all that exists, all the matters, is right now. Every moment is lived to the fullest because that’s all there is. It’s all instinct and natural reactions. He can’t lie, he can’t pretend, he can’t over dramatize. It is what it is, literally.
I’m not saying he has no memory because slowly but surely he’s learning what we’re training him to do. But he certainly has no lingering emotions in reaction to what he does, he’s just not built that way. Life is life- not good or bad or anything other what it is at this particular moment in time. There’s no longing for better days or wondering where he’ll end up, there's just now.
And me, the one who does get lost in the past or future, who worries and frets and fears, who wonders what will be- I am student to this little, fluffy guru. As I sit lost in thought he comes over and reminds me “It’s play time now!” And then I am in his world- there is nothing more than excitement over fetching the ball or chewing on the stick. He reminds it’s a time for a walk and I am outside, listening to the wind in the leaves, feeling the heat of the sun on my back, remembering that the world is so much bigger than the space that I occupy. He snuggles on my lap and that’s all I need. Whatever is wrong with the world, I have my puppy and his happiness is absolute and it fixes my mood, however poor it may be.
From me he gets food and treats and toys. He learns sit and down and stay. He gets snuggles and play time and attention. But from him I get so much more. I get little tiny glimses of life right now, free of all the ways we humans like to ruin that. Dogs are freakin awesome.