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Life 101: What makes your tail wag?

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I just watched the ending of the movie, “A Dog’s Purpose,” again.  Bailey, the dog in the movie, sums up his purpose in three simple words: Be here now.

When a dog wags its tail, there’s no mistaking the happiness that goes along with it. That got me thinking about all the heaviness in our world right now. Understandably, many of us may have forgotten what makes our tails wag.

While you may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders during this pandemic, it could help to take some life lessons from our canine friends.

Happy Dance

“Allow me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am,” reads a refrigerator magnet in my kitchen. No matter what’s taking place in the world, our pets tend to have an exalted opinion of their humans.

Even if you don’t have a pet, I’ll bet you can relate to some of the characteristics that may make you wag your tail a little more. For starters, how about that happy dance that occurs from a pet every time its human walks through the door–whether it’s been 10 minutes or 10 days? Do your own version of a happy dance, at least once a day.

Life Lessons

While the love of a dog is unconditional, humans are very conditional according to Cesar Milan, the original dog whisperer. You can look horrible, but your dog only connects with the essence of your soul.

If you want lessons in unconditional love, don’t look up to a role model, says author Renee Heiss.  Simply look down–and consider the following lessons.


Dogs are the most loyal creatures in the world. They will gladly walk beside you for as long as you need them.

The lesson: Loyalty is a two-way street. Make sure you’re loyal to yourself and your values and walk next to your partner wherever life leads you. Mutual loyalty helps your paths flow. It takes work, but it’s definitely worth it.


The tail wags, the body jiggles and the tongue hangs out. The dog is enthusiastic about his human, and enthusiasm is contagious.

The lesson: You don’t need to jiggle your body and let your tongue hang out when you greet yourself in the bathroom mirror each morning, but make sure you take time to say a kind word to yourself. 

And, if you live with a partner–and he or she is returning home–make sure you turn down the TV, get up from the computer and put down that smartphone. Nothing says unconditional love like undivided attention.

Those first two minutes of any encounter set the stage for the rest of the day–as well as the ongoing quality of your relationship.


You have a lot of errands, but not once does the dog go into canine rage because he or she is temporarily ignored.

The lesson: When you’re aware that other agendas need equal attention, everyone’s needs are met. This is especially challenging in our stay-at-home pandemic period with family members. The important thing is a give-and-take attitude.


Do you give your dog more treats than you give yourself?  Treats–whether we give them to ourselves or to others–only take a small amount of time and effort, and talk about return on your investment!

Wag More, Worry Less

So, there you have it, a joyful approach to lightening our emotional loads these days:

Be here now. Focus on what you want. Do a happy dance. Remain loyal to yourself and others and be enthusiastic and accepting. Lastly, don’t forget the treats!

©2020 Linda Arnold Life 101, all rights reserved.  Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and founder of a multistate marketing company.  Reader comments are welcome at  For information on her books, go to or

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