Some advice from my dog

This is my dog, Stray.

the emotionally competent dog

She’s very sweet.

She’s also needy.

Only one of those things is meant as a compliment.

She plops her big furry head right in my lap…never mind that she just mushed my hand onto the delete button of my laptop. She sometimes follows me to the bathroom and whines softly when I close her out. She paces the kitchen and refuses to eat her food if there are mashed potatoes on the stove.

Stray’s neediness irritated me. Sometimes it even drove me crazy. I’d think, “she’d be an amazing dog if only she wasn’t so damn needy.”

Then one day it occurred to me that “needy” was a very judgmental word—certainly I meant it as a judgment of her faults every time I said it or thought it.

So I asked myself how I’d describe what she does without judging it. The answer was clear and simple: she does what she can to get her needs met using the limited resources available to her.

That’s not such a terrible thing.

In fact…it seems like pretty darn good advice:

Do what you can to get your needs met, using the resources you have.

After all, my dog can get her needs for love, security, and mashed potatoes met without words or thumbs. Most of us already have way more resources than she does.

So here’s my challenge, for me, and for you if you’re willing to do this experiment too. Think of something–a behavior or a trait–that drives you nuts. Something that you’d change about that person (or animal) if you could. Then try and describe that behavior as simply as you can, without judging it as good or bad…just the bare bones facts of the matter.

Then see what comes out of that switch.


Tracy Richardson

I'm a writer, jewelry artist, web designer, and homeschooling mother of two. My mission? To help people create spaces for their stories and truths.

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2 Responses to Some advice from my dog

  1. kenyadee says:

    So I will try not to write a book, although when you get me started dogs…well, anything can happen.

    Stray is so beautiful! I think all dogs are beautiful. If I were really really honest with myself I really ought to be working with dogs because I LOVE LOVE LOVE all dogs. So it makes total sense to me that you would recommend following their lead.

    Regarding needy dogs: I have known some. I had an extended visitor whom we dubbed the Needy Nutria. (A nutria is a large rodent.) He would levitate into your lap before you even knew what happened.

    We now babysit another dog who is could be even needier. I found this dog near my house and we have since become friends with the owner (once they got reunited).

    We just lost our dog last week. Nikki, actually, was not at all needy. Yes, she needed us to provide food and lodging, but she was incredibly independent – to the extent that she would sometimes escape just because she liked to go out on her own! I really would have liked a little more neediness. Fewer escapes, more doggy lap time, but she was too independent for that. If you were really lucky, she would sit close to you.

    I want to share my memorial for Nikki:

    It really goes to show that it comes easily when you write from the heart.

    One last thing – I see you are now using MailChimp for your emails. I love MailChimp, but I couldn’t find a link to the blog, only a link to view the email in a browser. Thought you’d want to know!


    • Tracy Richardson says:

      Thanks so much for sharing Nikki’s memorial, Dee. She was absolutely beautiful.

      I’m a total dog person too. :) Stray is not very well right now, in that vague sort of old dog way, so it’s probably extra good that I’ve made my peace with what I was calling her neediness. (It was pretty enlightening to go all the way through that thought process, actually. More in another post.)

      And lastly, thanks for the heads up on the MailChimp thing. Always appreciate another eye on things!


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