If you know my fiance or I, you will know our dog Mia. Or at the very least, you will have seen/ been subjected to an onslaught of darling photos and hilarious anecdotes about all her crazy adventures. Because she is wonderful – all 60kg of St Bernard fluff, slobber and love (oh wow, I’m one of those weirdly obsessed dog people, I’ve only just realised). Anyway, I’ve learnt a great deal from observing her daily comings and goings and think I’m wiser for having her in my life. And I’m not talking about how to chase cats, drool on guests or snore louder than any human, although she is fantastic at all of those things. Nope, I’m talking big life stuff. Serious stuff. Stuff I would hope to teach our children. So here are some life lessons as dished out by Miss Mia.
1. Eat well. Poor Mia had a rough start to life, with a variety of health problems including a kidney defect. This means that her diet has to be top-notch. No room for junk food or anything that is not beneficial to her overall health. Every 4 days we cook her up a high carb, low protein concoction that is packed with vitamins and minerals and keeps her weight stable and her kidneys functioning perfectly. How many of us can say we eat that well? I’ve definitely learnt not to take my organs for granted – they do a vital job keeping everything running smoothly and without them I would be gone quicker than the bacon sandwich Mia stole when we first started her on a low protein diet.2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is a lesson I am continuing to learn. Things that may seem significant at the time won’t be in a week, a month, a year. Mia doesn’t stress if she goes a day or two without a walk, she just gets extra excited when it finally happens. She doesn’t care about a job, money or the shape of her body. She just lives life and is a shining beacon of pure love and affection because of it.3. Family is everything. I can’t even explain the amount of joy Mia exudes when AK returns from an interstate work trip or when I get home from a night out with the girls. It’s as if she thought she would never see us again and she is so bursting with excitement her whole body wiggles and shakes. There is nothing she likes more than her family, her wolf pack. Not bacon, not pigs ears, not barking at the black cat down the street. And if you’ve given her a pat or a treat in the past, don’t think she will forget.4. Life is short, make it count. Giant breeds have a short lifespan at the best of times and throw into the mix a heart problem and a kidney defect and we know her glorious days are relatively numbered. Sometimes it gets us down, but mostly we just resolve to give her plenty of wonderful experiences, vigorous pats and tasty treats. She is blissfully unaware of her mortality and shows the resilience I could only hope to achieve if I were ever seriously ill.5. Relax. There is no-one more finely tuned in the art of relaxing than Mia. I’d say she spends at least 70% of her day either sleeping or just lying around, dozing and enjoying the view from our balcony. I am the kind of person that plans 100 things for every day off and gets fidgety if I’m sitting in one place for too long so I definitely need to take a leaf from her book on this one.Maybe I’m on the road to be a crazy old animal lady, but I definitely think there is a thing or two to be learned from our four-legged friends.