Anyone who knows me—or my Instagram account—knows that we have a new puppy. For those who don’t, he is an almost 4-month-old Corgi, with the sweetest face and an equally delightful personality. We also think he is very smart. He is learning to wait before he scarfs his dinner, and he often stops snorkeling around in places he shouldn’t be if we just say, “No.” Additionally, he seems so earnest about everything, paying close attention to what we’re trying to get him to understand. I feel proud of us with him because we’re being consistent and calm, and I can see the results. But, even though I would like to take at least half the credit for his great manner and behavior, I know it’s not really us. Besides Remy’s own good nature, I look to our big, yellow Lab Nugget as most of the reason that the puppy is as sweet and well-behaved as he is.
We need to see the vulnerability in each other so that we can live in that place ourselves.
In short, Nugget is a really great role model. She is the nicest, calmest, sweetest, mellowest, most well-behaved dog I’ve ever met. Our previous Lab, Bryar, ran a close second, but Nugget is, as her CCI puppy raiser says, “Perfection.” And it is Nugget who is truly Remy’s daily companion. I picture them exploring the yard while we’re at work, taking naps together on Nugget’s big square Costco bed. I imagine Remy comes up with some goof-ball ideas during the day, but I figure Nugget just rolls her eyes at these schemes and Remy lies back down. But I also see Remy bring out the puppy in Nugget when he lures her into a tug-of-war game with a stuffed hedgehog. Seriously, though, since they are together from early morning to early evening, it would be hard for at least a little of Nugget’s demeanor to not rub off on the little guy.
Watching the two of them as Remy grows up has made me think a lot about the power of other beings in all of our lives. I know that most of the good things I’ve done in the world came as a result of my association with good people. I have been beyond blessed by individuals who are generous, funny, open, honest, and forgiving, and I have benefited from all of that on a daily basis. I have also seen the ways that those traits can bring light and color and relief to practically every situation. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone as open and optimistic as my partner Jodi? Who hasn’t been put at ease by the self-effacing humor of my friend Kim? I have learned the long game of relationships from the steadfast loyalty of my friend Mary. And Diane and Doug and I have created our own cartography as we have helped each other navigate being grown-ups.
If we have small children, we know the importance of being and providing good role models. We know that kids need to be around decent, honest people in order to learn to integrate those traits into their own lives. But we adults need that, too. We need to see people who understand their own emotions and know how to manage them in difficult situations. We can learn to thrive under tough circumstances if we see people we love and admire do the same thing. It’s easy to forget how much we all need each other to do our best, even when it would be easier to behave badly.
Most of us spend a lot of time around other people, even if we’re introverts, as I am. It’s not always easy to listen and talk and be fully present. But we need that from each other. We need to see the vulnerability in each other so that we can live in that place ourselves. It occurs to me, too, that trying to be a good role model for other grown-ups is not a bad motivator for any of us. Even if it’s to tell someone how frustrated we are and how much we feel like yelling, it’s so much better than just blowing our tops and not telling the truth.
More than anything, I like thinking of us learning from each other every day. I like knowing that most of us are trying our very best to be whole, emotionally responsible adults and that we’re doing that because we love each other. I like believing that we have it in us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be—simply because it makes all of our lives better and richer and sweeter. And I like trying as hard as I can to be authentic and present so that someone else might feel brave enough to do it, too, because they saw me do it. We’re teaching each other every day, just like Nugget and Remy.