Tuesday, October 27, 2009


A good friend and I were having a conversation recently about life and he used the word "fulfillment". I tossed that word around for days afterwards...thinking about the role that fulfillment has in our lives. There are so many different aspects to one's life...areas that matter, that affect our well being, that help us determine whether or not we are living the best version of our life: our work, our relationships, our children, our health, our hobbies, our financial stability, our faith and so on. In each of those areas we have a set of ideals, of expectations, of how we want that part of our life to be...what we need it to be in order to feel fulfilled.

I look around me and I see, more often than I would have expected, that people use the fulfillment they may be getting from one aspect of their life to make up for a lack of it in another. The fulfillment from having children makes up for the void left by a mediocre marriage. Or financial stability makes up for the monotony of a job that one has no passion for. Can one strive for fulfillment in every area of their life?

Finding fulfillment is hard, hard work. Things that are worth doing are usually hard. Sophie taught me about what true fulfillment really feels like....I had never really experienced that until she came into my life. I have written before that I had never felt as proud or as accomplished than when people would comment on how well we worked together or how well trained she was. Once you taste that kind of joy, you begin to seek it out in other areas of your life. But that kind of fulfillment does not come easy....it is a journey, and it is usually found by making tough decisions, by having courage, by having perseverance. I have found more fulfillment in the last year than I have known in my lifetime...but I have a long way to go still. I guarantee you will know two things for sure on your journey to fulfillment:

One....you will know when you have found it, because it will feel like your soul has grown wings.

And two...you will know that it was worth every second of that journey.

So is it possible to find fulfillment in every aspect of your life.? My answer is I don't know...but I intend to spend most of my time on this earth trying to find out.

Friday, October 9, 2009

a real dog

I received a pet industry research report at work this week that used the phrase "a real dog" in it at a few points. The phrase stuck in my thoughts for the next few days as I dared to ponder how does one define "a real dog"?


Our passion for our pets has created such a range of philosophy in the dog world....everything from what they should be eating to how to train them to what they should look like to conform to breed standards. And passionate dog owners, trainers, etc are never shy about giving their opinion (with the best of intentions) on those views. It's amazing that these creatures have created such strong feelings in us....it's one of the very reasons that our relationships with dogs has evolved in such a wonderful way. But with the sweet always comes the sour.

A real dog? Is that one of a certain size? One that wears a Halloween costume or one that doesn't? One that is purebred? One that works or one that shows? I've heard this expression,"a real dog" before...and it saddens me that some of us judge the "realness" of dog based on some pre-determined list of criteria that is agreed to upon by....who?

There are so many neglected and abused dogs...they are the ones that need our support, our intervention, our voice. The happy, go-lucky dogs of this world who have good forever families don't....no matter what kind of kibble they eat, or if they can't hold a sit-stay for a full minute or if they wear a different outfit every week or if the only papers to their name is a copy of the shelter adoption form. They don't need to be saved or spoken for on behalf of their well-being. Their owners don't need to be lectured. And neither the owner nor the dog needs to be judged. Do you know how you can spot a "real dog"? Because they are happy.

A real dog is a happy dog. A real dog loves to eat and sniff and bark and play. A real dog gets a chance, now and then, to run. A real dog has a warm, safe place where they love to sleep. A real dog is loved. And a real dog loves you back. Tell me how it gets any more real than that?