As far as summer jobs go, mine really isn’t that bad. I’d even go so far as to say that I sometimes enjoy it. Do I enjoy working retail? Not particularly. Do I enjoy rude customers? The emotional fatigue that comes with the expectation that you genuinely care about each individual customer? Not really. But this isn’t about all of the negatives of my summer job, because I’m lucky enough to have one with a pretty big perk: dogs. I work in a local pet food store, which means that many of the customers I help in a day have their dogs in tow. Believe it or not, it comes with its fair share of life lessons.
Pet therapy is alive and real; I’ve been working this job for over two years, and I’ve started many shifts wanting to be anywhere but work, only to find myself deflate and end my shift happy and bubbly. Humans tend to get caught up in all of the extras in life, whether they be external, like careers and responsibilities, or internal, like emotions and fear. The store I work at is small and local, so we have a decent number of regular customers, and most employees have a favorite pup or two. I’m no exception, but I’ve learned a lot from all of the dogs I’ve met (and pet).
If You Want Something, Go Get It
There are a couple dogs in the store who essentially own the place; they’re in there so often and are so well trained that they know us, we know them, and it’s like meeting up with an old friend every time they come visit. It doesn’t matter that Socialization class is going on, if Wrinkles wants some love she’ll sneak around the stacks of birdseed and find whoever is at the register. Even for the dogs who don’t know us as well, if they want a treat and it’s at nose-level, you can be sure they’ll eat it. I’ve seen too many people get pulled to the end of an aisle because I walked by and the pup got too excited.
One of the life lessons: Don’t let the obstacles you’re facing stand in the way of what you want. If you know what you want, don’t let anything stand in your way.
You’re Worthy of Love
If dogs know one thing it’s how to receive affection. Whether or not they’re trained, if you love a dog, they will love you too. They don’t have self esteem issues, and they certainly don’t care that they just ate an entire bowl of food and are now begging for your scraps. They know that even on the days they misbehave, you will still love them, and they know that they’re worthy of and deserve that love.
What do you want, right in this moment? The pig ear sitting on the bottom shelf? The bully stick next to it? What about the cookie, with all of its frosting just sitting there, waiting for you to eat it? Whatever it is, have it! Listen to your body, it knows what it wants!
If You Don’t Want It, Don’t Eat It
That being said, if you don’t want that treat right now, don’t have it! There are times to treat yourself, and times that you know that, no, mom, you really don’t want that biscuit right now. Also, if you don’t like it, don’t finish it. For humans it’s easier to figure out a way to not be wasteful, but don’t force yourself to eat something if you don’t enjoy it.
There’s More Than One Kind of Intelligence
Bubba the German Shepard is an incredibly smart dog, but his mom isn’t afraid to tell you how much of a dope he is. He’s very well trained and knows a lot of tricks, but sometimes it’s the simple stuff that messes him up. And that’s okay. Haven’t you ever met a human who was book smart, but not street smart?
One of the life lessons here is just because I understand complex math and you understand music doesn’t mean I’m intelligent and you aren’t. Dogs understand this, and they make friends with all different types and breeds of dogs. They know that even though one might pick things up quicker than another doesn’t mean that they can’t eventually (with the right help) be trained equally.
Dogs are a man’s best friend for a reason. They’re fantastic companions and extra members of our families. If you give them the chance, they’re smarter than you realize. Not for the first time, humans could benefit a lot from letting their dogs teach them a lesson or two instead of assuming they’re the superior beings. Do I want to work retail for the rest of my life? No. But as far as summer jobs go, working with dogs makes it pretty wonderful sometimes, and you learn some life lessons to boot.