We all have those people in our lives--the people we call jerks. The ones that push our buttons and make our blood boil. The ones that test our patience and make us think unpleasant thoughts.
My jerk happens to be a 19-pound Pug named Diesel that we rescued about 10 years ago. He came to us dirty, not trained to know that the potty was outside and he lacked any assemblance of manners.
His obsession with food is relentless and given the chance, he would eat until he exploded. He once hopped up on to the dining room table and ate two dozen chocolate cupcakes. His belly was so full that it hung down to the floor. He was sick for three days. I have learned to "Diesel proof" my house since he has been known to eat Chapstick, pens, socks and parts of stuffed toys. He has even ripped through shipping boxes, tore through bubble wrap and tissue paper just so he could eat the Christmas cookies that were neatly tucked inside. He tore through a plastic bag and ate a latex glove that my daughter had brought home from her CPR class at school. He barks at everything and nothing...leaves, birds, the wind. He hates bicycles and runners and makes it well known when we encounter them on our walks. It's embarrassing really. I feel like the bad parent that can't control her child.
You get the picture. He is a jerk. The first year we had Diesel, I was not sure I could handle it. I really wasn't sure I was up for the challenge. But I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, so 10 years later, he is still mine. And he has taught me valuable lessons along the way.
Lesson #1--BE MINDFUL I always need to be mindful when Diesel is around. I can't just go through the motions. I need to be present and think about pushing my chair in so he doesn't end up standing in the middle of the dining room table scarfing down the good stuff.
Lesson #2--PRACTICE PATIENCE I'm on my journey and Diesel is on his. He doesn't mean to be a jerk. It's not like he lies awake at night plotting his next move. His experiences as a puppy and the fact that he was crated for the first year-and-a-half of this life contribute to where he is right now. I must learn to accept where he is on his journey, exercise patience and not let my anger get the best of me when a bicycle whizzes by us and he shrieks like he is being murdered.
Lesson #3--FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE Instead of focusing on all of the bad stuff, of which there is many, I choose to focus on the good stuff and tell him often when he IS being a good boy. He is a good watchdog and a great snuggler and keeps me warm when the weather gets cold.
Lesson #4--EVERY DAY IS A CLEAN SLATE I never harbor any grudges and either does he. Every day is a chance for both of us to improve, learn, grow and change. Over the years, Diesel has made tremendous progress in learning to trust me and to know that I have his back.
Lesson #5--KEEP MY EXPECTATIONS IN CHECK Diesel will never be the kind of dog that can be trusted not to eat anything that may be in reach. He will never be able to be off leash unless he is in a safe environment. And taking him to a soccer game would be a nightmare. I know and accept his limitations and his boundaries and I don't set him up for failure by expecting him to be the dog he is not.
My life with Diesel continues to teach me things that translate into life lessons. There will always be people in my life that won't act in a way the resonates positively with me. And when that happens, when my buttons get pushed, I will reflect back on the things I learned from a 19-pound Pug.