Life Lessons from a Dog: Self-Care


The holiday season feels like a time for rest, reflection, and taking a little extra care of oneself. Self-care is a consistent are of focus and growth for me. I was recently reminded of this important life lesson from my therapy dog Ziggy.

After each session, therapy dog Ziggy returns home and then he PLAYS! Some days be plays more than others, but he always plays. This is how he takes care of himself, moving energy through and out of his body. He then eats and sleeps, that’s it! No processing what happened or planning for what’s next, just releasing what’s not his and rejuvenating. Each time I observe this pattern, I think to myself, wow, what would it be like if I could take care of myself like that? What an important life lesson from a dog!

The holidays can be a time of joy, love, connection as well as grief, loss, sadness, and overwhelm. However, you experience the holidays, it’s definitely seasons for taking a little extra care of yourself. If you are a parent/caregiver this becomes all the more important. The animals have taught me 5 main principles about taking care of myself:

1)    I can only take responsibility for myself—My thoughts, my feelings, my actions.

2)    Being there for other’s starts with being there for myself.

3)    I must take time for myself to replenish.

4)    Taking care of myself can happen in the action of daily life.

5)    I have to be present to serve.

These principals paired with simple tools have been transformational for my own self-care and how I show up for my loved ones, my animals, and my clients. I’m constantly learning and relearning these lessons, so I can fully show up for others.

I hope these principals can provide you with a little encouragement and guidance to take sweet care of yourself this holiday season. If you or someone you know would like to explore these principals and tools in action, please feel free to reach out to the Wish Fulfilling Tree to learn more animal-assisted therapy for children, teens, and families in Sonoma County.

Shanti Hill-Gauer