THE BLOG

My Dog Saved My Life: What It Means to Really Live and Love

01/16/2014 11:49 am ET | Updated Mar 18, 2014

As tough as it sometimes feels, change and loss are woven into life. We cannot live a full life without them.

Although both can be painful, they push us into a greater understanding of what matters in life, and what it means to really live, and they can help us become clearer about who we are since they provide a platform for substantial growth.

Over the past couple of years I've experienced many changes as I've transitioned from one chapter to the next. The one constant through all of that change has been my right hand man, my best friend: my dog Tucker.

My 80-lb. golden retriever buddy came to me at the darkest period of my life. I adopted him when I was suffocating in a deep depression, and he became my earth angel that helped pull me out.

He has been by my side through all the failed romantic relationships, horrible bosses, and seemingly wrong turns in life. Through all the chaos he's calmed me down and kept me grounded.

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After a series of layoffs, bad break ups, and overcoming drug and food addictions, I thought everything would be fine because Tucker and I had made it through the darkness -- until a year ago, when a veterinarian found a tumor in his nose attached to his brain. The likelihood of it being cancerous was extremely high.

Although Tucker is sick, we still have time together. Through this experience, I've learned a lot about what matters in life.

Here are some of the top lessons I've learned from my dog, Tucker:

Make Your Time Count

I spent so much time trying to be somewhere else -- in another job, another relationship, another place. In my effortless pursuit to get to the greener grass, I was missing life. It wasn't until my best friend was diagnosed with a life threatening disease that I saw the grass I'm standing on just needs a little water.

I realize now that I have been sleepwalking through life. I was awake but always looking ahead to feel fulfillment. I couldn't be happy with where I was, whether it was with boyfriends, my job, or where I choose to live.

But now, I see things more clearly. Where we are standing right now is what matters. And my personal attention to the moment is what was lacking. Now that I live here, in the present, I feel more abundant, successful, and fulfilled then ever before.

What we do with each hour is up to us. We always say, "I don't have enough time." But every moment could be a lifetime. I don't know how much time I have left with my dog -- an hour, a day, weeks, months -- but I know I have this moment.

Choose Happiness Now

I believe that we always have enough time, money, and energy for what is most important to us. Disease, divorce, or the death of a loved one are all jarring reminders about what really matters most.

Life happens and forever rushes forward. But the present moment is what we have, so choose to be happy and love right now. Don't wait until the future to be happy, because it's not a destination. Happy starts right now by appreciating this moment and fully embracing it.

Love More Deeply

This is our opportunity to choose happiness and love. It will never come to us when we search for it out there.

Yes, my best friend is sick -- but he's still here. I can still hold his paw and cuddle with him. It's these moments that really matter. Our loving human connections make a difference.

Over the past few months, I connected with everyone I knew and asked for his or her love and support. When we are going through a difficult time in life -- layoff, disease, bankruptcy, or whatever -- know that you are not alone.

There is power in a collective consciousness uniting together to support and love one another.

The people we show up for, the energy we spend serving and helping others, can make the grass green where you're standing.

We don't know how much time we have with our best friends and family. We only know we have this chance, right now, to choose love.

Believe in Miracles

Last week the Vet called me in to his office to go over my dog's diagnosis. He looked me in the eye and said, "In my 30 years of medical procedures, I have never seen this, but your dog does not have cancer." It felt like a miracle!

My dog taught me how to believe in hope, how to believe in miracles.

Still, I know he won't be here forever. This experience has helped me see that all relationships are gifts -- and the gift is in what each relationship can teach us. My furry friend has taught me how to love more deeply and be present.

We are not here for a long time. We are here for a good time.

I would love to hear your comments about what your furry friends have taught you.

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