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Everything I learned about life I learned from my puppy!

dvm360dvm360 August 2023
Volume 54
Issue 8
Pages: 10

A note from our chief veterinary officer, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA



Do you remember your first day of veterinary school? Our nerves were at an all-time high for all of us. I remember being so excited to be accepted to veterinary school yet terrified at the same time. With students making their way back to college, this is a great time for us to reflect on the teachable moments we have learned not only from vet school but from our entire educational journey.

Recently I became a dog dad to an adorable standard wire-haired dachshund puppy, Capone. It has been years since I’ve had a puppy in my life, and so much has changed—training, nutrition, preventive care, studies, and much more. You can probably relate to how much we as veterinary professionals look into things way too much. However, what I am finding, aside from poop nuggets on the floor, is that our greatest teachers come in all shapes and sizes. In my case, my newest fur baby has been one of the most profound sources of wisdom in my life. From the moment this little bundle of joy entered my world, he not only stole my heart but captured the internet by storm (over 24 million views of him sliding down a ramp).

Through my love of Capone, I realize that there is much more to learn about life. Being a veterinarian is a delicate dance between science and profound empathy. Here are 4 lessons I have learned from Capone and how they have shaped my perspective on love, joy, resilience, and the art of living in the present moment.

Lesson 1: Unconditional love

One of the most remarkable qualities of owning a pet is the unwavering and unconditional love they shower upon us. The emotional connection I have with Capone was instant. The eye contact he gave me was something that belonged in a Lifetime Original movie. No matter what kind of day I’ve had or how I may be feeling, he greets me with boundless enthusiasm, wagging his tail and showering me with pure love and devotion. Through this simple act, Capone has taught me that love should never be conditional or contingent upon external factors. His love is pure, unadulterated, and offered freely, reminding me that acceptance and love should be given to others without judgment or expectation.

Lesson 2: Living in the present

Puppies have an innate ability to live in the present moment. They seize every opportunity to play and explore. From annoying his siblings to pouncing on a leaf, Capone has shown me the importance of embracing each moment fully. In a world filled with distractions and worries about the future, he has become my reminder to cherish the now. He spurs me to put the phone down, turn the television off, and just be silly and goofy with him on the floor. His joyful presence serves as a gentle nudge, urging me to let go of my anxieties and immerse myself in the beauty of the present.

Lounging by the pool.

Lounging by the pool.

Lesson 3: Persistence and resilience

Watching Capone learn and grow, I have come to admire his resilience and unwavering persistence. Learning never stops. He wants to learn and wants to be challenged. As veterinary professionals, we should want this for ourselves every day. From the moment he took his first wobbly slides down the ramp, he has faced countless obstacles, but he never gave up. Through his determination, Capone has shown me that setbacks are not failures, but rather opportunities for growth and learning. Whether it’s mastering a new trick or overcoming a fear, he approaches every challenge with an indomitable spirit, inspiring me to adopt the same resilience in my life. Having the ability to adapt to change is a phenomenal skill set we all should strive to have.

Lesson 4: Finding joy in simplicity

Puppies find joy in the simplest of things: rolling in the grass, belly rubs, playing fetch. They remind us that happiness is not contingent upon material possessions or grand achievements but can be found in the little moments of everyday life. Observing Capone’s exuberance when chasing a ball or rolling in the grass has taught me to appreciate the beauty in simplicity. In a world that often prioritizes complexity and sophistication, he reveals the profound joy that can be discovered in the uncomplicated aspects of life. I invite you to make sure you take time to hang with your pet family and human family. Because we never want to live a life of “shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

In the unassuming form of Capone, I discovered profound lessons about life. Through his unconditional love, I have learned the value of accepting and loving others without judgment. His ability to live in the present moment has taught me the importance of savoring each experience. By witnessing his resilience and persistence, I have gained the strength to overcome obstacles in my own life. And, finally, through his contagious joy in simplicity, I have found a renewed appreciation for the small wonders that surround me.

Our pets have a unique way of imparting wisdom and teaching us what truly matters in life. As I continue to learn from Capone as he grows, I am reminded of the power of embracing love, cherishing the present, staying resilient, and finding joy in the simplest of things. These lessons have transformed not only my relationship with my wonderful puppy but also my perspective on life.

So the next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or disconnected from what truly matters, take a moment to observe your pet. Learn from their genuine love, ability to live in the present, resilience, and appreciation for the little things. Embrace the lessons they have to offer and allow their wisdom to guide you toward a more fulfilling and joyful life.

In the end, everything I learned about life, I learned from my dogs. They have become my greatest teachers, reminding me of the essential values that often get obscured in the complexities of adulthood. As we navigate the ups and downs of life, remember to embrace the simplicity, love unconditionally, live in the present moment, and approach challenges with unwavering resilience. By doing so, we can cultivate a more meaningful existence and find solace in the lessons bestowed upon us by our beloved furry companions.

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