Max does many little things that annoy me. He often noses in to get attention when I’m busy with something else (including eating). He incessantly begs for attention. When on walks he often stops to smell things at every step, preventing us from getting anywhere quickly.
And as these things pile up throughout the day, they really get under my skin. By supper time I’m ready to let him outside and have some peaceful time to myself.
This was all put into perspective last week when he was gone. In his absence, I was surprised in many ways by what it felt like to live without him.
I was especially surprised that I did not even think about all those annoyances that usually fill and cloud my mind when he is around. I did not remember how annoyed I often get when he bothers me for attention. Or how annoyed I am when I have to take him out at night after I’m already tired.
Instead I actually missed giving him attention and taking him out.
I think this was more than experiencing the maxim “absence makes the heart grow fonder” though. It was a realization that the little things that can pile up and annoy me don’t have to. The problem is not Max being an annoying being, but rather me letting those little things get under my skin.
By seeing our shared life from a new perspective, I realized that what really matters are all the ordinary things that increase the great bonds of affection between Max and me. I shouldn’t let his unique doggy traits get in the way of that.
Rather, I must see and love Max for who he is, including all his eccentricities. All those things he does that annoy me are just him being his dog self. He does not intend to annoy me in doing them, nor does he hurt me – those would be separate matters entirely.
In this case, I can embrace those things he does unintentionally as expressions of himself or strain against them as perceived annoyances. Only one of those options will help our relationship. Only one of those options will bring either one of us peace.
And I think Shrek learns that lesson the hard way. I just hope I learn it the easier way with Max’s kind tutelage.
So thank you Max, for teaching me that we all have eccentricities and that while it is often tough to live with another person’s (or dog’s) quirks, I can choose to see those from the perspective of love and grace rather than annoyance.