Eloise, my 8 month old Golden Retriever puppy, wears a patch that says “Service Dog In-Training” if she’s out and about wearing her special vest. Service Dog. In-training. Ok.

This morning, I spoke with fellow Marine Corps veteran, Lydon Villone (of Heel the Heroes) who is extensively educated on dog training. It’s what he does for a living, and he’s pretty awesome at it. I called him to talk about Eloise because, well, I’m not extensively educated in dog training and, um, I’m trying to train her. (I am getting some training support from Veteran’s Puppy for Life now, but I can always use more knowledge and support in this challenging process!) With each question I lobbed toward him about her, there was something in the answer about me.

Ultimately, my training with Eloise is just another form of mindfulness. I need to be fully present with her. Watching her. Listening to her. Learning from her. Better communicating with her. Watching myself…listening to myself…learning from myself. As I work with her, I have to work to emotionally monitor/regulate/adjust myself. Or else it wont work. If I get anxious before something has even happened, she’s going to feel it, and respond in kind. Lyndon reminded me that even by taking a couple slow, deep breaths, I can communicate to Eloise that it’s all good.

What if we paid this same kind of attention to our most intimate relationships with people?


By the way, this is day 1 of my commitment to write every day, basically unedited, without too much self-criticism (I’m working on that! ;-p) and to post, share, put it out there into the world.  Because, well,

“Great things are only accomplished by a series of small things.”

~Vincent van Gogh

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*Image from Sarah’s iPhone of Eloise.