Not only does Max enjoy all the simple things (see last post), but he also is truly thankful for them.
I have especially noticed this thankfulness after he finishes his supper. Max loves to eat. It’s his favorite. He also loves belly rubs, also a favorite. Both are favorites. In fact, if he could do both at the same time, I bet he would (and I don’t blame him at all).
And after he eats, he almost always expresses his thanks for the food by coming to let me know.
(Notice the appreciative burp?)
Now, I learned thankfulness before Max came into my life, and I’ve always believed it is incredibly important to be thankful for the many good things and special people in our lives.
But what Max has taught me is that thankfulness is not a duty. It is not something I owe to those who have done something nice to me. I’m no animal psychologist, but I have a hard time believing that Max has the same sense of obligation that I do.
So, Max’s thankfulness is truly heartfelt, and that’s why its so much more exciting and meaningful. He gets nothing extra out of thanking me and there are no social expectations that he do so. He does it purely because that is the natural instinct he feels, because he is so sincerely happy at what has happened.
Thus, his thankfulness is also not merely a reaction to something good, but a continued experience of the joy and love of the event. He is overjoyed by getting a tasty meal, which feeds (pun intended) his excitement and happiness, which in turn enlivens the joy of his life. He is not thankful from compulsion, but rather thankful from joy, which only leads to more joy.
And I think that means Max’s thankfulness is truly a disposition and not merely a habitual, forced reaction to good in his life. Such thankfulness allows the good to increase evermore in his life.
Moreover, it brings about more joy in my life in both receiving the thanks and just being around it. Just as the joy from a thankful disposition feeds greater joy within the person (or dog), it also feeds a greater joy in others in a contagious kind of way.
So, thank you Max for giving thanks for the simple things in life and for teaching me that thankfulness is best experienced not as a compulsory reaction, but rather as an ongoing moment of joy-filled love.